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The Virality Project was a Government Front to Coordinate Censorship

The Virality Project was a Government Front


It is now completely clear that the Virality Project, an initiative partnered with Big Tech to combat “anti-vaccine disinformation” and led by former CIA fellow Renee DiResta, was conceived by the Security State.

A report released by the House Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, reporting from Public, and new Twitter Files from Matt Taibbi show that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) instigated the Election Integrity Partnership, the precursor to the Virality Project.

In the words of the Digital Forensics Lab’s Graham Brookie, “We just set up an election integrity partnership at the request of DHS/CISA.” DFRLabs, an Atlantic Council initiative, was an EIP and Virality Project partner. They also operate deep inside the civil society “digital rights” and “anti-disinformation” fields.

The below email, from Taibbi’s reporting, shows Twitter staff knew DHS was behind the initiative, and that “recommendations” from EIP and the Virality Project carried with them the weight of the federal government:

The Twitter Files also show that the Virality Project began work in late 2020, almost immediately after the election: “Happy Friday, I wanted to follow up on our conversation from the end of last year” wrote one project coordinator:

The House investigation focused on the EIP but also released the Jira tickets (a system to flag content to partners) of the Virality Project. As noted above, the Virality Project used “the same Jira system from EIP.” The same infrastructure, with all the same core partners.

Alex Gutentag and I dove into the Virality Project tickets which clearly show they went wildly beyond their remit of raising “vaccine-related disinformation narratives.”

You can read the full report at Public (requires subscription).

The Virality Project frequently flagged true and debatable content, and this content was often actioned. This ranged from the ridiculous:

“After Krispy Kreme announced it would give free donuts to people who got vaccinated, the Virality Project alerted platforms about “criticism against Krispy Kreme’s vaccine for donut promo” and labeled such criticism as “general anti-vaccination.”

to policing true content and opinions on vaccine mandates:

“When Pfizer claimed that its vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 was 100% effective, the Project reported that “anti-vaccine groups” were expressing concerns about mandates for children and “disbelief at the 100% efficacy number.”

This further confirmed what we found in the Twitter Files, where the Virality Project advised Big Tech partners to label even “true stories” as “misinformation”:

The Virality Project violated the US First Amendment. Further, by preventing people from having all the necessary information about a frequently mandated medical intervention, it violated informed consent and the Nuremberg Code:

“The person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion

The “if” in Judge Terry Doughty’s interim ruling on the Missouri vs Biden case increasingly seems in need of deletion:

“If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”

Republished from the author’s Substack

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Andrew Lowenthal

    Andrew Lowenthal is a Brownstone Institute fellow, journalist, and the founder and CEO of liber-net, a digital civil liberties initiative. He was co-founder and Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific digital rights non-profit EngageMedia for almost eighteen years, and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and MIT’s Open Documentary Lab.

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