Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi released the latest version of “The Twitter Files” on March 17, this time about alleged collusion between Stanford University’s Virality Project and Twitter to censor what they deemed misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Virality Project (VP) also colluded with the U.S. government, alleged Taibbi.
“Though the Virality Project reviewed content on a mass scale for Twitter, Google/YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, Medium, TikTok, and Pinterest, it knowingly targeted true material and legitimate political opinion, while often being factually wrong itself,” posted Taibbi on Twitter.
Taibbi called the VP “a smash success” as “government, academia, and an oligopoly of would-be corporate competitors organized quickly behind a secret, unified effort to control political messaging.” Additionally, said Taibbi, “it accelerated the evolution of digital censorship, moving it from judging truth/untruth to a new, scarier model, openly focused on political narrative at the expense of fact.”
On Feb. 17, Twitter agreed to partner with the VP, which went on to inform Twitter that, regarding the vaccines, there is “true content which might promote vaccine hesitancy” including “stories of true vaccine side effects.” The VP said such content should qualify under Twitter’s censorship of COVID-19 posts. Twitter’s censorship rules on such content required it to be “demonstrably false or misleading” and that misleading claims “must be an assertion of fact (no opinion).”
The VP lamented to Twitter what conservatives and others decried as vaccine passports, where institutions, including restaurants, required people to show proof of vaccination. This backlash, according to VP, had “driven a larger anti-vaccination narrative about the loss of rights and freedoms.”
“By March of 2021, Twitter personnel were aping VP language, describing ‘campaigns against vaccine passports,’ ‘fear of mandatory immunizations,’ and ‘misuse of official reporting tools’ as ‘potential violations,’” reported Taibbi.
The VP went as far as to say that those “just asking questions” about the vaccines are using “a tactic commonly used by spreaders of misinformation to deflect culpability.” According to Taibbi, the VP “also described a ‘Worldwide Rally for Freedom planned over Telegram’ as a disinformation event.”
In April 2021, the VP called breakthrough infections of COVID-19 for vaccinated people “extremely rare events.”
“Even in its final report, VP claimed it was misinformation to suggest the vaccine does not prevent transmission, or that governments are planning to introduce vaccine passports,” wrote Taibbi. “Both things turned out to be true.”
The VP partnered with “[Department of Defense]-funded Graphika, the National Science Foundation-funded Center for an Informed Public (CIP), the GEC-funded DFRLab, and the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics, or CSMaP,” according to Taibbi, who added that the VP “would later say it partnered with ‘several government agencies,’ including the Office of the Surgeon General and the CDC. It reportedly also worked with [the Department of Homeland Security]’s CISA” (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) and Government Engagement Center, “among others.”
The Government Engagement Center, which is part of the State Department, reportedly funded the UK-based Global Disinformation Index to recommend censoring conservative outlets over claims they spread disinformation.
At the end of the day, wrote Taibbi, “America’s information mission went from counterterrorism abroad, to stopping ‘foreign interference’ from reaching domestic audiences, to 80% domestic content, much of it true” and that while DHS’s ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ is out … truth-policing is not.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the Office of the Surgeon General, CDC, State Department and CISA for comment