Documents obtained by NATIONAL FILE prove that Twitter and Facebook colluded with the government to censor the national conversation. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) pressured both Facebook and Twitter to censor information on their platforms ahead of the 2020 election and made it clear that Facebook and Twitter were both willing to play ball with the government to censor data.
These revelations further prove that social media does the bidding of the government to censor Americans. Recently leaked emails suggest that collusion occurred between the CDC and Facebook, Google and Twitter to censor anti-vaccine information. The Biden White House reportedly tried to get a journalist named Alex Berenson banned from Twitter for criticizing the official Coronavirus narrative. And Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the FBI played a role in Facebook’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 election. Now, we know that Facebook and Twitter were collaborating with the government in the run-up to the 2020 election.
On March 7, 2019, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) president Jim Condos, the Democrat Vermont Secretary of State, wrote letters to Twitter public policy chief Kevin Kane and to Facebook official Eva Guidarini to discuss what the secretaries of state wanted from Twitter prior to the 2020 election, including censorship and removal of disputed information. Condos made it clear in his letters that Twitter and Facebook showed “willingness to work with the Secretaries of State.”
In the letter to Twitter, Condos wrote: “On behalf of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), I would like to thank you for your willingness to work with the Secretaries of State, election directors and other important stakeholders to address misinformation and disinformation on your platform related to the elections process. We believe significant progress has been made to understand and address these issues. As we move into 2019 and the 2020 general election, we urge Twitter to further engage on the following issues:
First, the elections community faced many challenges as a result of Twitter’s use of a non-government, third-party site to prompt users to register to vote. We instead encourage Twitter to either connect directly to the chief state election webpages, state online voter registration system webpages, and/or vote.gov. These government backed websites will provide accurate information to the public, eliminating confusion and frustration in the voter registration process. As we have previously discussed, in the 2018 midterm election cycle, a nongovernment, third-party site failed to properly notify users of incomplete voter registration applications initiated through their site. Many of these individuals then went to the polls and quickly found out they were not registered. This incomplete process was not effectively addressed by the third-party platform or Twitter at the time. Moving forward, we would like to avoid future issues of this nature.
Secondly, Twitter’s election mis/disinformation “election partner portal” was inefficient. Leading up to and during the 2018 midterm elections, mis/disinformation was reported to Twitter through a “election partner portal.” The portal created an additional step to report false information, causing the states to utilize NASS or the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) to make the report on their behalf. This approach does not allow for reporting to happen as quickly as a state may need, especially on Election Day. States must be able to report directly to the platform to ensure a speedy report and response. Twitter should also consider on-boarding local election officials, particularly large jurisdictions, into the portal.
Finally, Twitter’s user agreement rules were ineffective when addressing reported election mis/disinformation. While we appreciated the ability to report false information, in some cases the reported mis/disinformation was not taken down, causing the perpetuation of false information and distrust in the platform as a source of reliable information. The frequent response from Twitter was the mis/disinformation did not violate your standards, with no further explanation. Secretaries of State and their staff often appealed this decision, but to no avail.
Transparency and consistency in the reporting process is crucial to ensure accurate information in the public domain to instill voter confidence.
As election officials and the federal government continue to fight mis/disinformation around elections, we believe it would be beneficial for state and local election officials to give direct input on your platform’s user agreement rules. Election officials have firsthand
knowledge of false claims (past and present), and a strong familiarity with state laws, campaigns, candidates and politically active local organizations. Advisement on Twitter’s standards could include establishing a working group of Secretaries of State, election directors and their communications directors. NASS would be happy to help facilitate this working group.
Again, NASS and its members appreciate our continued positive working relationship with Twitter. I look forward to your consideration of these requests as we all prepare for the 2020 elections. In the interim, if you or your staff have any questions please feel free to contact NASS…”
“Is Twitter an independent entity in its relationship with government actors?,” an expert legal analyst remarked to NATIONAL FILE.
“Like every public company, Twitter has to file regularly with the SEC info reflecting its financials and these documents have to state risk factors for investors. Two risk factors they state are relevant here. One is they need users with large followings and those that create content to survive. Kicking out users and censoring (in whatever manner) goes completely against their obligations to the shareholders (when not done for an illicit purpose). The other is they are vulnerable to regulatory risks, and states are a large contributor to that risk for tax reasons alone. This group is particularly relevant because it’s Secretaries of State; the parties who grant and rescind corporate charters in states. So, at first blush anyone would think Twitter has the upper hand in the relationship. Yet when you look again, Twitter is acting contrary to its corporate interest at the behest of these government actors,” the legal analyst said.
The legal analyst continued: “Even more puzzling, these people appear oblivious to the inherent restrictions imposed on them due to their government roles. Why do they feel so emboldened? They write they’re frustrated Twitter imposed an additional step to remove posts they don’t like, forcing government actors to use a third party intermediary to make the request. Stunning they’re so oblivious as to the illegality of this, they write asking Twitter to remove this inconvenient step, and post the letter online!! The other shocking ask is their request to have direct input into Twitter’s user agreement. Legally, everything about that is outrageous (remember these are the people over incorporations, so they of all people know better). The requesters have no interest in the company’s financials, performance, or return to shareholders, yet they want a direct role that would impact all off those items. It would be an absolute abdication of its obligations to shareholders if Twitter allowed this.”
The legal analyst continued: ” That of course begs the question, did Twitter change its user agreement at this groups request and or direction? Did they influence any language directed at removing users? Did they have a role in the creation of fact checkers? Anyway, I’m not giving Twitter an out with this. In my opinion they acted illegally by creating the additional step for intermediaries to request removing an individual’s post or account.
This step, initiated and taken deliberately by Twitter, denied users any legal remedy. It gave state actors the ability to illegally silence speech of individuals and a means for those illegal acts to be hidden behind the wall of a well funded corporation. This scheme between powerful state actors and a moneyed corporation, effectively denied users the ability to discover the true source of their injury. This prevented users potentially from comparing election irregularities in their areas, similarities of injury, maybe even complaining about election law changes and organizing to counter government overreach. Shockingly, this is 2019. How bad did this get? We don’t know, but we can see they’re clueless that what they’re doing is illegal. So why would we assume they recognize any boundaries.
No wonder state actors and their vendor experts can say confidently all contrary opinion is debunked, when this is what’s going on behind the scenes.
When people complain that Americans are being complacent and not speaking up on all the blatant wrongs we’ve witnessed, this letter goes a long way to explain the silence.”
Reporting by The National File.