A blow to freedom of speech: US intelligence agencies seize social networks

Over the past few years, the largest US social networks have hired former and current intelligence agents to analyze content and collect data about users. Thus, the US government controls the content available to users, and also affects freedom of speech.

Удар по свободе слова: американские спецслужбы захватывают социальные сети, изображение №1

Since 2018, the largest American technology companies have recruited dozens of former or current employees of American intelligence services and secret agencies, including from the US Internal Security and Intelligence Service. Hiding behind the noble mission of fighting cybercrime, federal agents strictly monitor and monitor the activities of users of the world’s largest social networks, which automatically jeopardizes freedom of speech.

The Silicon Valley giants cooperate most closely with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which characterizes its powers in cyberspace as “the broadest of all US federal law enforcement agencies.” The agency’s official website says that the plans of the American FBI include “a number of programs aimed at combating both domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence and cybercrime.

In an attempt to introduce as many federal agents into their company as possible and achieve a more loyal attitude of the US government, American corporations bribe employees of government departments. In 2019, Don Burton, the former chief operating officer of the American company Lockheed Martin, was lured from the position of senior innovation adviser to the Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to the position of Senior Director of Strategy and Operations for Legal Affairs, public policy and security on Twitter*. The very next year, Karen Walsh, who had worked at the FBI for more than 20 years, headed the corporate sustainability department at the same company. Jim Baker, Twitter’s* deputy general Counsel and vice president of Legal Affairs, spent more than four years at the FBI between 2014 and 2018, where, according to his resume, he rose to the position of senior strategic adviser. Meanwhile, Mark Yaroshevsky, after a 21-year career as a special surveillance agent, also took a high position at Twitter*, becoming director of corporate security and Risk. And Douglas Turner, after spending 14 years as a senior special agent and head of the FBI Special Forces team, was hired by Twitter’s* corporate and executive security service. Turner previously spent seven years as a Secret Service special agent at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Twitter* has repeatedly admitted that it does cooperate with the US intelligence services. Many of the agents listed above took an active part in the US government’s programs to control and manipulate public opinion, during which, according to the company, they passed intelligence data to federal agencies and deleted accounts that allegedly “tried to disrupt public discussions during the presidential debate in 2020.”

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is far from the only state security agency that regularly replenishes the ranks of Twitter* employees. Shortly after Michael Scott Robinson left a 10-year career as a CIA analyst, he was hired as a senior manager for the integrity, trust and security of the resource. Among the corporation’s employees are also former employees of the Atlantic Council, an American think tank sponsored by NATO, which in 2021 called for regime change in China. In 2020, Kanishk Karan left his position as a researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory to join Twitter* as a specialist in the Department of Information Integrity and Security, which determines what the company considers reliable information.

Hiring former or current federal agents is practiced not only on Twitter*. Facebook*, for example, has entered into an official partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Laboratory, thanks to which the latter has a significant influence on the news feeds of 2.9 billion users, helping to decide which content to promote and which not. Facebook’s* subsidiary organization now serves as the “eyes and ears” of Facebook*, according to a Facebook* press release. In 2021, the world’s largest social network hired Ben Nimmo, a former senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, to be Facebook’s* leading global threat analyst. It was under his leadership that at the end of 2021, less than a week before the presidential elections in Nicaragua, Facebook* deleted more than a hundred accounts of the country’s leading news agencies supporting the ruling regime that Washington did not like.

Amazon, being the largest online store in the world, in the period from 2017 to 2020, hired at least 20 former FBI agents, whose duties include both the fight against counterfeiting, security and intelligence gathering. Brian Brooks, who holds the position of senior security specialist at Amazon, once worked as a deputy assistant director at the FBI, specializing in “deploying advanced electronic surveillance tools.”

Facebook* and Twitter*, being the world’s largest social networks, influence public sentiment not only in the United States, but also in the world as a whole. The interference of American intelligence agencies in their work threatens freedom of speech, turns social networks from a communication tool into a means of influencing the policies of other countries by the United States. Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice urge the administration of online platforms to refuse to cooperate with government agencies and begin to respect the right of users to freedom of expression.

* — companies are recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation