by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Margot Cleveland of the Federalist details bad news on the censorship front.
The federal government peddled technology to Big Tech companies to assist them in censoring Americans’ speech on social media in the run-up to the 2020 election, according to emails Missouri and Louisiana uncovered in their First Amendment lawsuit against the Biden administration.
Specifically, the State Department marketed this censorship technology through its Global Engagement Center. In other words, our tax dollars not only funded the development of tools to silence speech that dissented from the regime’s narrative. They also paid for government employees to act as sales reps pitching the censorship products to Big Tech.
I’ve been “tasked with building relationships with technology companies,” Samaruddin Stewart, then a senior adviser for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center or “GEC,” wrote in an early-February 2020 introductory email to LinkedIn, allegedly requesting a meeting. According to the lawsuit, his email also suggested he would be reaching out to other social media companies interested in “countering disinformation.”
On March 9, 2020, Stewart again contacted LinkedIn, referencing an earlier verbal discussion and writing:
“I’ll send information [to LinkedIn representatives] about gaining access to Disinfo Cloud — which is a GEC funded platform that offers stakeholders an opportunity to discover companies, technology, and tools that can assist with identifying, understanding, and addressing disinformation.”
These two emails are explosive. Yet because they were revealed in two passing paragraphs of the 164-page complaint filed by Missouri, Louisiana, and a handful of other plaintiffs against the Biden administration, they — and their enormous significance — have been overlooked.
The Stewart emails establish that in 2020, federal government actors contacted social media giants to promote GEC’s Disinfo Cloud. GEC represented that this government platform provided “companies, technology, and tools” to “assist with identifying, understanding, and addressing disinformation.” Then it gave private tech companies access to Disinfo Cloud.