- - Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Woke academics and Democratic Party loyalists are using taxpayer dollars to police the internet and suppress the voices of Biden administration critics. 

In the 2020 election cycle, the deep state and Silicon Valley worked tirelessly to limit the reach of conservatives on social media platforms. Today, the departments of Homeland Security and State are supporting the same cabal’s efforts to police social media platforms during the midterm election campaign. 

In early September, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in his state, released emails that indicate collaboration between President Biden’s executive branch and Silicon Valley to censor Americans online. The emails show that more than 45 officials at various federal agencies and numerous White House staffers are in regular conversation with social media companies about removing “undesirable” content from their platforms — content coming from the administration’s political opposition.

But a private sector progressive operatives group is also pitching in, funded by millions of dollars in grants from DHS and State. The group — the Election Integrity Partnership — has a proven record of limiting the reach of conservative voices on social media platforms. 

On Sept. 30, Just the News released a report documenting how EIP, a private consortium, worked throughout the 2020 election cycle to flag social media accounts or posts that allegedly propagated misinformation. Working tirelessly, EIP focused on posts from “right-leaning blue-check influencers” and flagged more than 4,800 URLs that were shared more than 22 million times on Twitter.

The group’s politically charged work was funded through federal grants. The constitutionality of this public-private partnership is questionable. But this hasn’t stopped EIP from raking in millions in additional grant money since the 2020 election. 

Now, flush with federal cash and equipped with improved methods of censorship, EIP is wreaking havoc with conservatives’ use of social media in the 2022 midterms. 

An early notch on the group’s belt was Robby Starbuck. A prominent conservative voice and now former Tennessee congressional candidate, Mr. Starbuck faced a torrent of obstructionism from the EIP and Big Tech. For example, during primary season, Twitter placed a search ban on Mr. Starbuck’s name, making it nearly impossible for supporters to find his social media page. 

The “disappearing” of Mr. Starbuck was not an isolated incident. Nor is the EIP’s election meddling confined to outspoken nonincumbent candidates with large social media followings. Elected Republican officials such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, and Paul Gosar, of Arizona, have also experienced this DHS-sponsored interference with their election efforts. 

And conservative politicians aren’t the only targets in the EIP’s crosshairs. The combine’s “disinformation mitigation” model is also apparently designed to go after other large and impactful conservative accounts such as those of Donald Trump Jr. and political activist Jack Posobiec.

EIP is made up of four entities: Stanford University’s Internet Observatory, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and Graphika, a “social media analytics firm” made up largely of former U.S. intelligence agents. What drives their work? A clue may be found in the tweets of Katie Starbird, director of the Center for an Informed Public. In one of many threads, Ms. Starbird worries about “the dynamics of online misinfo & populist political movements.” As she sees it from her sinecure at the University of Washington, the populists are the “elites,” and the people must be protected from hearing their views.

The federal government is constitutionally barred from abridging freedom of speech. Yet the Biden administration has funded an organization dedicated to suppressing the online speech of those whose views they see fit to label as “disinformation.” The fact that those “offenders” are overwhelmingly conservative is no accident. 

EIP is acting as a proxy for the American left, conducting an information war against its perceived enemies on the right. No Americans, conservative or otherwise, should have their constitutional rights quashed by the state or by state-sponsored entities. 

• Jake Denton is a research associate in the Tech Policy Center at The Heritage Foundation.

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