The ‘great Covid-19 lie machine’ worked to censor ‘true stories’

In the latest Twitter Files report published on Friday, journalist and author Matt Taibbi revealed that Twitter had partnered with the Virality project, which warned the social media platform that “true stories that could fuel hesitation” , complained about “anti-vaccine” accounts retweeting the CDC and, ironically, researched the term “surveillance state” while looking for more information to censor.

“The release of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Spring 2020 emails via the Freedom of Information Act was used to exacerbate distrust of Dr. Fauci,” the Virality Project lamented in June 2021.

A nurse vaccinates an elderly man with the Moderna vaccine (Photo by Alejandro Martinez Velez/Europa Press via Getty Images)

The Virality Project is “a broad, cross-platform effort to monitor billions of social media posts by Stanford University, federal agencies, and a host of (often state-funded) NGOs,” Taibbi noted.

Taibbi went on to say Friday’s Twitter files revealed ‘reports of vaccinated individuals contracting Covid-19 despite everything’, ‘natural immunity’, suggesting that Covid-19 ‘leaked from a lab’ and even “disturbing jokes” have all been labeled as “potential”. violations” or “events” of misinformation by the virality project.

“We have since learned that the Virality Project in 2021 has worked with the government to launch a pan-industry surveillance plan for Covid-related content,” Taibbi said. “At least six major internet platforms have been ‘integrated’ into the same JIRA ticketing system, sending millions of items for review daily.”

The reporter added that the Virality Project had “knowingly targeted genuine, material and legitimate political opinion, while often getting factually wrong.”

“As an Orwellian proof of concept, the virality project was a resounding success,” he said. “Government, academia and an oligopoly of potential corporate competitors quickly organized behind a covert, unified effort to control political messaging.”

The virality project had also “accelerated the evolution of digital censorship, moving it from judging truth/lies to a new, scarier model, overtly focused on political narrative at the expense of facts,” Taibbi said.

Twitter files also revealed that on February 5, 2021, just after President Joe Biden took office, Stanford wrote to Twitter to discuss the virality project. Shortly after, Twitter agreed to receive weekly reports on “anti-vax misinformation”.

The Virality Project also warned Twitter that “true stories that could fuel hesitation,” including stories such as “celebrity post-vaccine deaths,” as well as the closure of a central New York school due to reports of post-vaccination illness.

The organization suggested that stories like these be considered “standard vaccine misinformation on your platform.”

In an email to Twitter, the Virality Project mentioned what it called the “vaccine passport narrative,” saying “concerns” about such programs “have led to a broader anti-vaccination narrative.” on the loss of rights and freedoms”.

The organization also called it a misinformation “event”.

The Virality Project has regularly framed real testimonials about vaccine side effects as misinformation – from “true stories” of blood clots from AstraZeneca vaccines, to a New York Times history of vaccinees who contracted thrombocytopenia, a blood disorder, Taibbi said.

The Virality Project also warned against people “just asking questions”, suggesting it was a tactic “commonly used by misinformation spreaders”.

Twitter employees ultimately emulated the language of the Virality Project, describing “campaigns against vaccine passports,” “fear of mandatory vaccinations,” and “misuse of official reporting tools” as “potential violations.”

“Although this account posts legitimate and accurate COVID-19 updates, it posts content that attacks Italian politicians, the EU and the United States,” the Global Engagement Center complained to Twitter in an email. -mail.

The Twitter files also reveal an email in which the Virality Project implored Twitter to “focus” on an “increasingly popular narrative about natural immunity.”

But the organization has been “repeatedly and extravagantly wrong,” Taibbi said, citing an example in April 2021, when the Virality Project mistakenly described “breakthrough” infections as “extremely rare events” that should not be taken to mean “vaccines are ineffective”.

Later, after the CDC changed its methodology for counting Chinese coronavirus cases among vaccinated people to only include those resulting in hospitalization or death, the Virality Project complained that “anti-vaccine” counts retweeted the information.

Finally, in a fun but terrifying case of irony, the Twitter files also revealed that the Virality Project has researched the term “surveillance state.”

A year later, the organization released a report calling for a “rumor control mechanism to deal with nationally biased narratives” and a “Center of Excellence on Misinformation and Disinformation” to be housed within CISA, Department of Homeland Security.

And a day later, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sadly announced that a “Disinformation Governance Council” had been created, to be led by censor Nina Jankowicz.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangeloand on Instagram.


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