How The U.S. Government Works With Big Tech To Censor Information On Social Media

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • The Intercept has revealed that multiple US federal agencies worked with Big Tech to stop the spread, of what they claim to be, "misinformation" on social media for quite some time.

    • This has been deeply impacting US public discourse.

    • Dozens of employees from various federal agencies like the CIA & NSA are now employed by Big Tech companies like Meta.

  • Reflect On:
    • Why does the U.S. government have the right to become arbiters of what constitutes false or dangerous information on inherently political topics, especially when they have been wrong on so many occasions?

    • Fake news is certainly a thing, but as we saw with COVID, government agencies were wrong time and time again.

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Here at The Pulse we’ve been no stranger to censorship. Our viewership went from 25 million a month to under 2 million in the blink of an eye. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and other platforms censored us, changed how we show up in algorithms, and demonetized us for sharing “misinformation.” We now rely on donations to sustain us, and we are struggling to stay afloat.

We started experiencing this in 2016, but the world became much more aware of just how vast and coordinated censorship efforts are during the COVID-19 pandemic. Renowned scientists, doctors along with legitimate evidence and perspectives have been silenced throughout the pandemic. Countless lawsuits and initiatives have been launched that are revealing the depth governments have gone to silence information that counters what they themselves claim to be factual.

One of the latest explorations of censorship comes from The Intercept who revealed internal Department of Homeland Security documents that confirm their plans to continue censoring opinions about COVID-19, “racial justice,” and US support for Ukraine going forward. Their documents effectively show that the government agencies work to control American public discourse online.

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One of their major revelations is that tech companies – including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft and LinkedIn – met with the FBI and other government agencies every month, before and since the 2020 election to talk about this. Facebook even set up a special portal for “takedowns” that requires a law enforcement email to access.

One of the authors of The Intercept report, Lee Fang, tweeted the following on Monday,

The recent COVID pandemic is a great example of how this partnership was likely in place. During the pandemic, any science showing that natural immunity to COVID-19 was quite robust was subjected to this type of censorship. Scientists and scientific papers were met with “fact checks” or content removals on emerging and evolving topics that were not actually false. If their findings did not align with Big Government, they were shut down.

Below is one of dozens of examples.


Check out our latest episode of the Collective Evolution podcast which explores Sensemaking, Fake News & Censorship.


An article published in the British Medical Journal by journalist Laurie Clarke as early as May 2021 highlighted the fact that Facebook had already removed at least 16 million pieces of content from its platform and added warnings to approximately 167 million others. YouTube had removed nearly 1 million videos related to, according to them, “dangerous or misleading covid-19 medical information.”

Just last week The Pulse had part 2 of a 2 part series deleted off of YouTube. The series explores data and statements from the CDC around COVID-19. The reason for deletion? “Medical misinformation.” How could a journalist exploring data from the CDC be penalized for sharing “medical misinformation” unless YouTube is claiming the CDC is the source of that medical misinformation?

The report also highlights how prior to the 2020 election, tech companies including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media met on a monthly basis with the FBI, CISA, and other government representatives.

According to NBC News, the meetings were part of an initiative, still ongoing, between the private sector and government to discuss how firms would handle “misinformation” during the election.

During a World Economic Forum (WEF) anti-disinformation panel last week, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Melissa Fleming, announced that they “own the science,” in reference to their climate initiative, as seen in the clip posted below. 

She brought up the WEF’s partnership with big tech companies including TikTok and Google that contribute to controlling the narrative on climate change information. Their “anti-disinformation panel” is in place due to their belief that disinformation regarding major issues like climate change and COVID-19, is running rampant.

Simply put, behind closed doors and in collaboration with Big Tech, the US government used its power to try and shape online discourse, and still does.

In fact, in February the US Department of Homeland Security stated that sharing “misinformation” online may be considered domestic terrorism. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas  testified six months ago that the Department of Homeland Security has created a “Disinformation Governance Board” to combat misinformation.

This is not anything new,

CIA was directing the coverage of American news organizations, overthrowing democratically elected governments (at times merely to benefit a favored corporation), establishing propaganda outfits to manipulate public sentiment, launching a long-running series of mind-control experiments on unwitting human subjects (purportedly contributing to the creation of the Unabomber), and—gaspinterfering with foreign elections. From there, it was a short hop to wiretapping journalists and compiling files on Americans who opposed its wars.

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden, America’s Open Wound. The CIA is not your friend.

A declassified document from the CIA archives from 1991 in the form of a letter from a CIA task force addressed to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency details the close relationship that exists between the CIA and mainstream media and academia. The document states that the CIA task force “now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation,” and that “this has helped us turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success” stories,’ and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others.”

Furthermore, it explains how the agency has “persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources and methods.”

After leaving The Washington Post in 1977, Carl Bernstein spent six months looking at the relationship of the CIA and the press during the Cold War years. His 25,000-word cover story, published in Rolling Stone on October 20, 1977, is reprinted here

The only difference is that today this effort has become much more obvious and transparent. People like Julian Assange are suffering for exposing war crimes and other immoral and unethical actions by governments, yet it’s constantly claimed that his revelations threatened “national security” when they simply exposed the truth.

The Intercept’s revelations are also coming from other sources.

For example, in the case of Missouri v. Biden, in which the states of Missouri and Louisiana — along with four private plaintiffs (Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, the non-profit Health Freedom Louisiana, and yours truly) represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance — are suing the Biden Administration for alleged free speech violations. They have discovered that federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies have secretly communicated with social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech federal officials disfavor.

“The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency], the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General; and evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the US Election Assistance Commission. And it rises to the highest levels of the US Government, including numerous White House officials.”

Aaron Kheriaty, former Professor of Psychiatry at the UCI School of Medicine and Director, Medical Ethics at UCI Health, is a Senior Scholar of the Brownstone Institute.

Furthermore, Big Tech companies have dozens of high ranking employees that were once employed by various Federal agencies.

For example, Aaron Berman the, Senior Product Policy Manager for Misinformation at Meta, left his job at the CIA as senior analytic manager a 2019 to join Meta. There are a number of other ex-CIA agents working in these fields.

Deborah Berman spent 10 years as a data and intelligence analyst at the CIA before recently being brought on as a trust and safety project manager for Meta. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA under Barack Obama now works for Amazon. Regina Dugan, who was the Director of The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 2009 to 2012 held executive positions at both Google and Facebook after that.

Between 2006 and 2010, Bryan Weisbard was a CIA intelligence officer, his job entailing, in his own words, leading “global teams to conduct counter-terrorism and digital cyber investigations,” and “Identif[ying] online social media misinformation propaganda and covert influence campaigns”. After that he became a diplomat and is currently a director of trust and safety, security and data privacy for Meta.

There are countless examples and it’s quite shocking just how many there are.

“In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour.

I think the reality here is…it’s not really about freedom of speech, and it’s not really about protecting people from harm…I think what you see is the internet has become the de facto means of mass communication. That represents influence which represents power, and what we see is we see a whole number of different tribes basically squabbling to try to gain control over this instrument of power.”

Edward Snowden

Check out our latest episode of the Collective Evolution podcast which explores Sensemaking, Fake News & Censorship.

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