MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Quiet Merger Between Online Platforms and the National Security State Continues

Posted by M. C. on November 10, 2022

An eye opener from the Dark side.

At MintPress News, Alan McLeod has documented a virtual hiring spree by increasingly censorious social media platforms from among former national security employees ― including from the CIA, FBI, DHS, military intelligence, NATO, and others ― sometimes for positions directly related to regulating content. That includes at TikTokTwitterGoogle, and Facebook

https://jacobin.com/2022/11/dhs-big-tech-surveillance-censorship-mdm

BY BRANKO MARCETIC

The Department of Homeland Security is helping to coordinate tech company censorship efforts according to recent reporting. The line between tech firms and the national security state is only getting blurrier.

The steady march of the post-2016 tech censorship campaign has been picking up pace lately, and we’ve just learned of another leap forward. According to recent major reporting from the Intercept, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been involved in efforts aimed at corralling what it refers to as “MDM”: misinformation, disinformation, and “malinformation.”

Documents obtained and made publicly available by the news outlet show that the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been formulating a strategy to combat MDM regarding US elections and other matters. While seemingly unobjectionable on the surface ― who could be against combating false information, which is rife online? ― it raises serious questions about the extent of government involvement in the already-troubling phenomenon of tech censorship.

The conversations detailed in the documents show the federal government, and the DHS specifically, taking a more active role in tech companies’ efforts to suppress MDM. We’ve had some indications this was happening for a while, as when DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC in August that the government was “working with the tech companies” on “strengthen[ing] the legitimate use of their very powerful platforms and prevent[ing] harm from occurring,” and that it was doing so “across the federal enterprise” ― comments that were only reported in right-wing media.

The documents give us details about what that work has entailed. In these discussions, the government did not directly carry out censorship. Rather, they involved government agencies: doing “debunking” and “pre-bunking”; directing the press, local and state governments, and other stakeholders to “trusted resources”; carrying out “rumor control”; boosting “trusted authoritative sources”; giving financial support to its external partners; and improving information literacy. Much of the focus is on elections, with participants talking about using these resources to prevent people being misled about how, where, and when to vote, and stressing that CISA should strictly be a “resource” that at most uses its “convening power.”

But it’s not just election misinformation that’s the focus. Among the recommendations made by CISA is to target MDM that “undermines critical functions carried out by other key democratic institutions.” What are these institutions? It lists as examples the courts and, absurdly, the financial system which — besides not actually being one of our “democratic institutions” — is a notable broadening of what “fighting misinformation” involves. And yet a representative of JP Morgan Chase attended the discussions, and several emails suggest CISA is facilitating collaboration between Google and Facebook and the department of treasury on “social media and influence matters,” as one puts it.

So far we don’t have indications of any forthcoming plans for carrying out censorship by government agencies themselves, but in practice, what’s already been put in place ― and what’s envisioned in the documents ― is, in effect, state censorship done indirectly. 

See the rest here

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