Journalist Matt Taibbi dropped the 19th installment of the ongoing “Twitter Files” on social media on Friday, detailing the dirty underbelly of the social media giant’s predilection toward implementing iron-fisted censorship and control over the narrative of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taibbi, who has notably been responsible for dropping multiple Twitter Files installments over the past few months, began his lengthy thread with screenshots from a 2021 “Virality Project Weekly Briefing.”
For reference, the Virality Project is “a coalition of research entities focused on supporting real-time information exchange between the research community, public health officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, and social media platforms,” per their website.
The project was allegedly colluding with Big Tech giant Twitter to help identify “potential violations” or disinformation “events” to “monitor billions of social media posts by Stanford University, federal agencies, and a slew of (often state-funded) NGOs.”
Taibbi noted that before he testified in the House last week, emails from the Virality Project were found in the Twitter Files “describing ‘stories of true vaccine side effects’ as actionable content.”
“We’ve since learned the Virality Project in 2021 worked with government to launch a pan-industry monitoring plan for Covid-related content,” he explained. “At least six major Internet platforms were ‘onboarded’ to the same JIRA ticketing system, daily sending millions of items for review…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.”
Taibbi says that this collusion “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.”
“Government, academia, and an oligopoly of would-be corporate competitors organized quickly behind a secret, unified effort to control political messaging,” he wrote.
On Feb. 5, 2021, Stanford University wrote to Twitter to discuss the Virality Project, and by the 17th of that same month, Twitter “agreed to join and got its first weekly report on ‘anti-vax disinformation,’ which contained numerous true stories.”
Virality Project advised the Big Tech giant that stories about celebrity deaths after taking the Covid vaccine or stories about post-vaccine-related illness could “fuel hesitancy” and therefore be considered “Standard Vaccine Misinformation on Your Platform.”
Taibbi went on: “VP warned against people ‘just asking questions,’ implying it was a tactic ‘commonly used by spreaders of misinformation.’ It also described a ‘Worldwide Rally for Freedom planned over Telegram’ as a disinformation event.”
Perhaps the most glaring issue Taibbi highlighted in the Twitter Files drop was that the Virality Project was “repeatedly, extravagantly wrong.”
The organization aimed at cracking down on any narratives online that promulgated any type of doubt related to the Covid vaccine, finally calling for a “Misinformation and Disinformation Center of Excellence” in April 2022.
Taibbi pointed out that just one day after the Virality Project issued this call, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that a “Disinformation Governance Board” had been created and would be headed up by Nina Jankowicz.
Virality Project also partnered with Department of Defense-funded Graphika, the Center for an Informed Public, the National Science Foundation, DFRLab, and the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics.
“To recap: America’s information mission went from counterterrorism abroad, to stopping ‘foreign interference’ from reaching domestic audiences, to 80% domestic content, much of it true,” Taibbi concluded. “The ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ is out; but truth-policing is not.”