WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) launched a series of state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding a letter written by twelve state attorneys general, all Democrats, to the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook, seeking to censor the views of American citizens in collusion with the UK-based pro-censorship organization, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).
The attorneys general called on the social media networks to “effectively root” “out fraudulent information about coronavirus vaccines.” The evidence is that they prepared this letter in coordination with the CCDH. CCDH describes itself as a “not-for-profit non-governmental organization” that “works to stop the spread of online hate and disinformation through innovative research, public campaigns and policy advocacy.”
CCDH is also described as “[a]n NGO cut-out engaged in brazen smearing, attacking of dissenting views, deplatforming, censoring and pro-active shrinkage of the Overton window [by] strategically conflating serious voices with the fringes, mixing them together to isolate genuine actors and squash dissent.”
On March 24, 2021, CCDH published a list of “twelve anti-vaxxers who play a leading role in spreading digital misinformation about Covid vaccines,” and urged social media platforms to “establish a clear threshold for enforcement action” and “to deplatform the most highly visible repeat offenders, who we [CCDH] term the Disinformation Dozen.” The list consisted entirely of Americans, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. AFL launched an investigation into potential government collusion with this list.
On the same day, these twelve state attorneys general sent a letter stating, “Twitter and Facebook have yet to remove from all their platforms the accounts of prominent ‘anti-vaxxers’” such as the “12 ‘anti-vaxxers’ personal accounts and their associated organizations, groups and websites [that] are responsible for 65% of public anti-vaccine content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”
Government pressure to suppress speech violates the First Amendment. The First Amendment is founded on “the hypothesis that speech can rebut speech, propaganda will answer propaganda, [and] free debate of ideas will result in the wisest governmental policies.”
America First Legal is determined to uncover the circumstances which led these state attorney generals to undermine the First Amendment and write this letter.
Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice President and General Counsel:
“In 2021, in an extraordinarily anti-American move, twelve state attorneys general did the bidding of an organization with extraordinary foreign ties to pressure social media companies to censor Americans’ speech. We are going to obtain any and all communications between those offices and anyone associated with CCDH so that the American people can see for themselves the extent of this foreign-influence operation at the state level,” said Gene Hamilton.
Read the FOIAs here.
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