As the midterm elections in the United States approach, which will be held on November 8, 2022, the largest American technology companies are again going to interfere in their course, censoring news and information. Tech giants (Google, Twitter, Meta), which occupy a dominant position in the information sphere on the Internet, plan to use the same content filtering tactics as during the 2020 presidential election.
Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 came as a surprise to large companies such as Twitter and Facebook, which immediately began cooperating with law enforcement agencies to conduct disinformation campaigns and fabricate evidence against representatives of the Republican Party of the United States. Despite the fact that the facts of censorship by the big four companies dominating the information technology industry of the United States have been carefully documented throughout this time, they openly declare that they are not going to abandon the established strategy.
In September 2022, Missouri Prosecutor Eric Schmitt released several documents that were obtained after the two states filed a joint lawsuit in May to disclose information about officials in the US government who collaborated with social networks. According to the published documents, some of the high-ranking members of the Biden administration colluded with representatives of major technology companies, the direct and main purpose of which is to suppress the so-called “erroneous opinion”, namely conservative ideas that threaten the power of the Biden regime. According to Schmitt, since the filing of the lawsuit, at least 45 federal officials have been identified who “advised representatives of social networks on disinformation issues.” In addition, at least 32 Biden administration officials interacted with Meta (ex. Facebook), and 11 more with YouTube employees. The released data also contains information that Biden administration officials consulted Facebook employees every week about what information should be censored. Emails of the tech giant’s correspondence with administration officials date back to July 2021, around the same time then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized social media platforms for not doing enough to suppress “disinformation.”
Other emails confirm that employees of Biden administration agencies, such as the head of the US Public Health Service Officer Corps, the US Treasury Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency, were seen in communication by representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter. In each case, the goal was the same: to censor information and opinions inconvenient for the Biden administration that run counter to the narrative of the current US government.
A month before the publication of the documents, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Meta, admitted in an interview with American journalist Joe Rogan that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation warned his company about the threat of “Russian disinformation” in 2020, thereby hinting at the need to change the algorithms for issuing information. Among other things, representatives of the internal intelligence agencies had in mind the concealment of publications containing information about the scandal related to the disclosure of information contained on the laptop of the son of the American president, and evidence that Joe Biden helped his son run a shady business in Ukraine. According to opinion polls, one in six Biden voters would change their vote if they knew the story of Hunter Biden. Given how small a margin the incumbent American president had in some states, the impact of censorship on the voting process is obvious.
Ahead of the upcoming midterm elections in the United States in November, several technology companies have already announced their approach to censorship. Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global relations, said in a blog post that in the fall of 2022, the company will “largely use algorithms and security measures developed in 2020.” One of such mechanisms is Facebook’s fact–checking system, which marks publications that the company believes contain false information and limits their visibility to users of the social network. At the end of 2020, the NeverTrumper The Dispatch proved that Facebook fact-checking had wrongly flagged a publication about the attitude of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris regarding late-term abortions as “unreliable information”, despite early statements by politicians. In addition, one of the company’s experts, who is responsible for content analysis, receives funding from representatives of the US Democratic Party.
In August, Twitter announced that it would begin applying its “Civic Integrity Policy” in the 2022 midterm elections. This means taking “action against misleading statements about the voting process, misleading content designed to intimidate people from participating in elections, or misleading statements that could undermine public confidence in the election results.” Like Facebook, Twitter will flag “false or misleading” information as misinformation. After tagging, such content will not be distributed by the company’s algorithms. The Company also reserves the right to remove any publications that, in their opinion, contain “false or misleading” facts.
However, this policy of Twitter only works to restrict the freedom of speech of representatives of the political opposition in the United States and, mainly, the conservative-minded part of American society. In August 2020, the company refused to block misinformation about the work of the United States Postal Service, which, according to experts, influenced the course of the elections.
The largest American video hosting company YouTube also announced that it has a plan to combat disinformation ahead of the elections in November. In a blog post dated September 1, the company wrote that when searching for videos related to the midterm elections, priority will be given to “content coming from reputable national and local news sources such as PBS NewsHour, The Wall Street Journal, Univision and local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.” However, the video service did not warn its viewers that many of these corporate media outlets have a clear bias in favor of the ruling Democratic Party of the United States.
YouTube also said it would remove “pre-election content that violates our policies,” including “misleading voters about how to vote, encouraging interference in the democratic process, inciting violence or promoting certain types of disinformation about elections,” and content about “election integrity.” While this policy will apply “regardless of political viewpoint,” the company stressed that videos “alleging widespread fraud, errors or failures that took place in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, or that the election was stolen or rigged,” would violate its policy.
As in 2020, major technology companies are actively censoring information that could harm their agenda or preferred candidates. By falsely calling factual information from conservatives “disinformation,” such companies have the ability to control the flow of information that questions the freedom and transparency of the democratic process in the United States and creates a false picture of the political situation in the country on the eve of the midterm elections. The Foundation to Batlte Injustice regards the Biden administration’s attempts to interfere in the activities of large technology companies shortly before the midterm elections in the United States as a gross violation of the first Amendment to the American Constitution. Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice fully condemn the use of such methods of information suppression of the opposition, which contradicts the principles of democracy and free elections. According to the joint assessment of the experts of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, the very fact of collusion between the US tech giants and members of the Biden administration casts doubt on the existence of a democratic system in the United States.
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