Published 18 March 2023 at 08.23
Foreign. In cooperation with social media and Stanford University, the US authorities censored information that those in power were planning to introduce vaccine passports – which was classified as “disinformation” even though the information was factually correct. It happened on Twitter, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, documents from the Twitter Files show.
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New information released Friday by Twitter owner Elon Musk's “Twitter Files” initiative shows that the US government and major social media companies worked with Stanford University to censor or limit the spread of true information about Covid-19.
< p>It is about a review of a government project called “Virality Project 2021”, which came around the same time pharmaceutical companies started launching their first vaccines against covid-19.
“Virality Project 2021 collaborated with the government to launch a industry-wide monitoring plan for covid-related content,” tweeted independent journalist Matt Taibbi, who has reviewed internal Twitter material with permission from owner Elon Musk.
“At least six major internet platforms were on the scoresheet, sending millions of posts for review daily,” he writes on Twitter.
The goal of the project, which was created by Stanford University, was to identify people on social media who said things about covid-19 that the government didn't want them to say.
For example, it was information about vaccines that interfered with the interests of the pharmaceuticalindustry or information that questioned the necessity of mandatory PCR tests for travel and the like, a regulatory framework that caused a large and prosperous “testing industry” to emerge during the pandemic.
The review shows several cases where the Virality Project “countered” factually correct information about covid-19 with information that was substantively incorrect, but on the other hand politically correct.
“Although the Virality Project vetted content at scale for Twitter, Google/YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, Medium, TikTok and Pinterest, it deliberately targeted true material and legitimate political views, while often actually spreading misinformation itself,” notes Taibbi.
“The virality project was a great success,” according to Taibbi. “Government, academia and an oligopoly of IT giants quickly organized into a secret joint project to control political messages.”
When posts the government didn't like were identified, social media companies were asked to censor or limit the visibility of the post.
“It accelerated the evolution of digital censorship, reshaping it from judging truth/falsehood to a new, more unpleasant model, which was openly focused on spreading a political narrative at the expense of facts,” added Taibbi, who gave an example of Twitter's involvement in the Virality Project.
“The Virality Project told Twitter that 'true data that could fuel doubt,' including things like 'celebrity deaths after vaccination' or a closing of a central New York school due to reports of illness after vaccination, should be considered 'Standard Vaccine Disinformation on Your Platform,'” writes Taibbi.
Taibbi also noted that Virality Project 2021 was not based on facts but rather submission to authorities.
” Into the last classified virality project information that vaccination does not stop the spread of covid-19 or that governments are planning to introduce vaccine passports as disinformation,” Taibbi added. This despite the fact that “both things turned out to be true”.