Why Renee DiResta Leads The Censorship Industry

How a former CIA fellow came to lead US government efforts to stamp out disfavored speech on the Internet

Since the 2016 elections, politicians, journalists, and many others have raised the alarm about “foreign election influence” and “disinformation,” demanding greater “content moderation” by social media platforms. It is too easy, they argued, for foreign and malign actors to quickly “go viral” at low cost, leaving the good guys unable to correct bad information. We must become more “resilient” to disinformation.

It’s now clear that all of that rhetoric was cover for a sweeping censorship effort by the federal government and government contractors.

Since December, a small but growing group of journalistsanalysts, and researchers have documented the rise of a “Censorship Industrial Complex”, a network of U.S. government agencies, and government-funded think tanks. Over the last six years, these entities have coordinated their efforts to both spread disinformation and to censor journalists, politicians, and ordinary Americans. They have done so directly and indirectly, including by playing good cop/bad cop with Twitter and Facebook. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people have been involved in these censorship and disinformation campaigns in the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

We now know, thanks to the Twitter Files, emails released by the Attorney Generals of Missouri and Louisiana, and research by others, that the Censorship Industrial Complex is violating the First Amendment by coordinating with government agencies and receiving government funding to pressure and help social media companies to both censor information, including accurate information, while spreading disinformation, including conspiracy theories.

And such efforts are continuing if not accelerating. At Biden’s “Summit for Democracy” last week, US allies in Europe demanded that Facebook censor “false narratives” and news that would “weaken our support to Ukraine.” Facebook agreed.


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