Conservative legal efforts and court rulings have hampered online censorship initiatives funded by the Biden administration, The Washington Post reported.
Academic researchers and government agencies are rethinking or terminating their Biden administration-funded initiatives to censor “misinformation” online since the July Missouri v. Biden ruling to prevent federal agencies from coordinating with social media companies, the Post reported. Conservatives have alleged that federal agencies and social media platforms coordinated to censor right-wing perspectives and have investigated this alleged malfeasance via information requests.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) paused a $150 million initiative designed to disseminate medical information on subjects including nutrition and vaccinations, physicians told the Post. NIH officials issued a memo in July to certain personnel cautioning them not to identify posts that contain alleged misinformation for social media companies to censor.
The memo also instructed them to restrict their public messaging to addressing medical inquiries, according to the Post.
“If the question relates in any way to misinformation or disinformation, please do not respond,” the July memo reportedly stated.
Well-funded social media censorship efforts may not exist in the same capacity because of the Missouri v. Biden ruling, which called out the Biden administration for “targeted suppression of conservative ideas,” and other efforts that have called into question the legitimacy of the government suppressing online speech, the Post reported.
Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has recently gone after at least two recipients of funding from Biden’s National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Convergence Accelerator initiative with information requests, three individuals familiar with the situation told the Post. The initiative funds organizations developing systems to counter “misinformation,” including software enabling journalists to detect its proliferation online.
.@POTUS is paying more than $5M to a group called Hack/Hackers which is making lists of orgs & media they think should & should not be trusted.
They’ve basically created a naughty & nice list to police the content posted by family & friends. 🐷🎅 #MakeEmSqueal
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) December 22, 2022
A nonprofit group of journalists and technologists called Hacks/Hackers obtained funding from the NSF to assist in spreading what they consider the correct information on subjects, such as the effectiveness of vaccines, but the coalition is now being more careful in its research and communication, according to the Post.
“We are double- and triple-checking what we write, above what we used to, to try to communicate our good intentions — in the face of efforts that willfully misconstrue our work and desire to serve the public,” Connie Moon Sehat, a group researcher-at-large, told the Post. “And I worry more broadly that we researchers may self-censor our inquiry, or that some will drop out altogether, to stay safe.”
Biden “is paying more than $5M to a group called Hack/Hackers which is making lists of orgs & media they think should & should not be trusted,” Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa asserted in a December post on X — formerly Twitter. “They’ve basically created a naughty & nice list to police the content posted by family & friends.”
The group’s initiative has classified right-leaning sources such as The Daily Wire and Daily Mail as “unreliable,” and Vox and The Atlantic as “reliable,” according to Fox News.
The White House, NIH and NSF did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.