Major media outlets continue to promote an unholy alliance between social media companies and federal government agencies, in the name of protecting elections from foreign interference. But the vague rubric of “disinformation” is often an excuse for shutting down conservative voices online around election time.
The latest media valentines to the left’s new favorite domestic surveillance organization, the FBI, was a November 10, 2,000-word report on NBCNews.com, puffed as an “Exclusive”: “How the GOP muzzled the coalition fighting foreign propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and beyond.” It was co-authored by NBC News’ Kevin Collier, who covers cybersecurity, privacy, and technology policy, and Ken Dilanian, D.C.-based justice and intelligence reporter and well-known to NewsBusters.
Dilanian emerged as one of the FBI and CIA’s biggest fans during the Donald Trump era (a peculiar spot for a supposedly First Amendment-loving journalist to be), promoted the discredited Trump-Russia collusion theory, and continued to shill for the “Deep State” in his latest online report, cowritten with Collier.
The story’s headline deck put the blame on the GOP:
How the GOP muzzled the quiet coalition that fought foreign propaganda — The FBI put a pause on briefings with tech companies due to an ongoing lawsuit, adding to a broader breakdown in a system meant to guard against influence operations and to ensure election integrity.
Collier and Dilanian lamented that Republican opposition (including court rulings, apparently) had put a spanner in the works of the smoothly functioning online-speech-surveillance bureaucracy.
A once-robust alliance of federal agencies, tech companies, election officials and researchers that worked together to thwart foreign propaganda and disinformation has fragmented after years of sustained Republican attacks.
The GOP offensive started during the 2020 election as public critiques and has since escalated into lawsuits, governmental inquiries and public relations campaigns that have succeeded in stopping almost all coordination between the government and social media platforms.
So NBC News considers coordination between government and social media platforms a good thing?
The most recent setback came when the FBI put an indefinite hold on most briefings to social media companies about Russian, Iranian and Chinese influence campaigns. Employees at two U.S. tech companies who used to receive regular briefings from the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force told NBC News that it has been months since the bureau reached out.
NBC’s reporters sounded disappointed the FBI doesn’t have freer reign to pressure social media companies to comply with their wishes.
“We’re having some interaction with social media companies,” [FBI Director Christopher] Wray said. “But all of those interactions have changed fundamentally in the wake of the court rulings.”
This was sadly revealing:
“This is the worst possible outcome in terms of the injunction,” said one U.S. official familiar with the matter. “The symbiotic relationship between the government and the social media companies has definitely been fractured.”
Warnings about “foreign adversaries” were meant to conjure up nightmares of “Russiagate,” but Russia’s online “troll farms” didn’t really swing the 2016 election to Trump. NBC’s real target is Republicans, painted as McCarthyite.
After the election, a victory for the Democrats and Joe Biden, President Donald Trump and many other conservatives refused to accept the loss and lashed out at political enemies. They targeted a number of election integrity operations, including the channels that shared information on disinformation, often accusing them of censoring conservative voices.
Collier and Dilanian offered bad excuses for Twitter and Facebook censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story a few weeks before the 2020 election and still placed an asterisk on the veracity of its contents, since proven beyond doubt:
….Digital forensics experts have verified that at least some of those emails were authentic but much remains unknown about the origins of the files.
Since then, Republicans have sent many election integrity efforts into retreat.
Casting doubts on lockdowns, vaccines, and masking also crippled “election integrity efforts,” somehow.
Last year, the attorneys general offices of Missouri and Louisiana filed a joint lawsuit against the Biden administration, alleging that federal government outreach to tech companies about content on their platform — including law enforcement tips about election integrity and Covid-19 — constituted intimidation and a violation of First Amendment protections to free speech.
They even defended would-be-censorious songstress Nina Jankowicz, who would have headed the Biden Administration’s Orwellian “Disinformation Governance Board” but had her own problems spreading disinformation about Hunter Biden’s laptop, complaining she “quickly became the target of a debilitating harassment campaign.”