Stanford Blocking Wind of Freedom

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From Science Matters

by Ron Clutz

Thomas Adamo and Josiah Joner report at Stanford Review Stanford’s Dark Hand in Twitter Censorship.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Matt Taibbi’s two latest “Twitter Files” drops revealed that Stanford played a direct role in this gross violation of online free speech. Emails revealed that the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) actively collaborated with Twitter to suppress information they knew was factually true. 

Taibbi’s investigation revealed that Stanford’s Virality Project “recommends that multiple platforms take action even against ‘stories of true vaccine side effects’ and ‘true posts which could fuel hesitancy.’”

The project succeeded in getting big tech companies to take down about 35% of the content they flagged. They reviewed content en masse from almost every major social media company:

Twitter, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Medium, TikTok, and Pinterest were all monitored by SIO. The questionable censorship decisions by the group all seemed to go in one direction—shutting down the now-vindicated Dr. Scott Atlas and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, while taking direct guidance from Anthony Fauci about the supposed falsehood of the lab leak theory.

In short, the Stanford Internet Observatory’s Virality Project had countless people—mostly Stanford students—reporting millions of Twitter posts that didn’t comply with their standards. Even posts that were factually true faced censorship if they didn’t conform to the subjective whims of SIO officials.

The evidence points to a para-governmental fusion of universities,
social media companies,and the federal government,
all working to censor free speech.

We at the Review take Stanford’s actions to suppress speech very seriously. Stanford cannot be allowed to sweep this gross violation of fundamental freedoms under the rug. The University must answer for their actions.

It appears Stanford’s Virality Project took issues with anyone who was an enemy of the state’s, and more explicitly Fauci’s, narrative about the coronavirus and subsequent vaccines.

Any posts that brought up the “lab leak” theory (now the primary COVID origin thesis), were dubbed by SIO as “keen to foment distrust in Fauci’s expert guidance and in American public health officials and institutions.”

People who dared question the Fauci-manufactured ‘status quo’ narrative were censored. SIO even branded “reports of vaccinated individuals contracting Covid-19 anyway” and “natural immunity,” as troublesome violations of ‘disinformation’ policies.

If this is truly what the term ‘disinformation’ means, perhaps we should no longer define it in terms of what is and isn’t true. Instead when we hear the word we should think of it as anything that isn’t in the federal government’s formal narrative: thought crime. 

The Virality Project stated that because the post-vaccine death of a Virginia woman named Drene Keyes inspired “anti-vaccine” comments, it became a “disinformation” event.

They warned against people “asking questions,” alleging it was a tactic “commonly used by spreaders of misinformation.” Doubting, or even just examining, the prevailing narratives on COVID got citizens repressed by a para-governmental entity.

The Stanford Internet Observatory and Project Virality wanted to cover that up—not because it wasn’t true… it was and they knew it. They covered up the truth because they wanted to preserve their narrative. The truth would “exacerbate distrust in Dr. Fauci,” too much for SIO. When given the choice between truth and Fauci, Stanford chose Fauci.

Projects like SIO’s project Virality are deeply insidious and set
a dangerous precedent for the future of online discourse.

Stanford’s hand in them and the extent to which they censored important, relevant and true information is deeply disappointing and troubling. When an extra-governmental institution acts with impunity against the First Amendment rights of Americans and suppresses information that resulted in the deaths of American citizens, one might expect a dark and shady underground alliance of evil to be behind it. In 2023, it seems all roads lead to Palo Alto.

With free speech on campus recently under attack at the law school, the university censoring faculty that wouldn’t go along with the lockdown narrative, and now their role in censorship on social media, it is fair to question if the winds of freedom still blow at Stanford. It is up to the University to take concrete steps to reassert that freedom of speech is a bedrock principle.