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Beyond Orwell: The Players and Strategies of Today’s Censorship and Cancel Culture Part II

Originally published at Townhall

When crises come—whether a pandemic or war—most people become fixated on the immediate events and fail to connect the dots that provide a context for how those events may fit together in a deep state or globalist agenda.  In 2020, the main issues for deep state influence and control of the American people were the COVID-19 pandemic and the November national election. As was explained in Part I, those two seemingly disparate events were actually connected.

In addition to there being a revolving door between the CIA, FBI, and DHS and social media companies Google, Facebook, and Twitter- all three hiring former employees of those intelligence agencies—there were also information-and-influence portals from these government agencies to these social media companies.  Regulatory agencies such as the CDC and the FDA also helped the Pharma-Medical industrial complex through long-standing existing channels, but they also established information-and-influence portals to the social media companies to ensure they would convey their narratives on Covid-19. One of those narratives revolved around heightening the fear factor, while another was designed to protect the rollout of “Emergency Use Authorized” vaccinations as the holy grail sole solution to Covid-19.  This required censoring and cancelling the legitimacy and use of therapeutic treatments, which might have negated the vaccination agenda. Government agency actions that led to censorship were of course a violation of the letter and spirit of First Amendment law. 

When it came to directly influencing the 2020 election, it was recognized that government agency censorship would be constitutionally problematic. So, an indirect academic NGO-type strategy was pursued. Nothing new here, as the CIA has frequently conducted many of its operations through “cut-out “private sector business and educational institutions.

In June of 2020, the Election Integrity Partnership was formed by Alex Stamos, who was then  a research professor at Stanford University, after having resigned his position of chief security officer at Facebook in 2018. Stamos’ first endeavor at EIP was to meet with Chris Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)—an  operation within DHS—to identify how EIP could complement CISA’s efforts related to the upcoming November 2020 election. Part of CISA’s mission was to mitigate misinformation, but there were perceived limitations on partisan political activity.   And that is where EIP could play a big role.   

Although Stamos had a staff of some 120 at EIP and cooperated with the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington, he knew that keeping up with flagging and censoring tens of millions of social media posts for election “misinformation” could prove impossible. His solution was reportedly to facilitate mass censorship and cancellation to lead EIP in the persuasion of major social media companies to change their customer terms of service policies to incorporate language about “delegitimization.” That in turn would make possible mass censorship and cancellation through the technology and efficiency of applied algorithms incorporating word and phrase search. 

Within six weeks of getting its operation up and running, EIP succeeded in getting  Facebook and Instagram to change their terms of service to adopt delegitimization. On September 10th, Twitter also incorporated delegitimization into its terms of service. Other social media platforms such as You Tube, Reddit, TikTok Pinterest and Snapchat would follow suit

Once the new terms of service that included delegitimization were in place, EIP had a two-fold approach to bring said social media companies into compliance to affect the deplatforming and cancellation of discussion/coverage of delegitimized topics: 1) Remind management of social media firms that there could be consequences from government regulatory agencies if they were noncompliant with their terms of service; and 2) Noncompliance with their written terms of service could also likely result in negative PR for the company.

There were slight changes to the words and subjects identified for delegitimization before and after the November election. Mike Benz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Freedom Online and former State Department communications official, has itemized a partial summary of prohibited election-related subjects for discussion on social media that would trigger cancellation or deplatforming:  new election protocols and processes; issues and outcomes; mail-in ballots; early voting; drop boxes; “Stop the Steal”; “Sharpiegate”; Poll Watcher; Postal Service; dead voter rolls; and Antifa, among others. And when the Hunter Biden laptop story broke in mid-October, it was immediately delegitimized.

By EIP’s own admission, Twitter was forced to cancel 22 million tweets that contained “misinformation” that violated the company’s terms of service prior to the November 2020 election.  After the election, when many Americans felt disenfranchised and had many questions about perceived irregularities, they found that social media effectively thwarted discussion about election fraud, just as social media had done with Covid-19 policy abnormalities.

In many ways social media has taken the place of the town hall, marketplace conversation and traditional media. Never before have Americans been so restricted in their “free” speech. 

With information narratives coming from government agencies who have direct portals to social media, or with information and voices being blocked, cancelled or deplatformed on social media by NGOs like Election Integrity Partnership, the result is thought control, as Orwell warned. 

Censorship is not just a violation of the First Amendment and an assault on the Constitution—a betrayal of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our entire way of life is protected by free speech, which is the firewall against abuse of power and tyranny. 

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.