‘Misinformation’ researcher with ties to DHS advised Big Tech on content moderation

by | Apr 2, 2024

During a closed-door testimony to Congress, Kate Starbird, a left-wing researcher who previously chaired a Department of Homeland Security “misinformation” panel, revealed that she had directly advised social media companies on content moderation policies.

Starbird, a professor at the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public investigating “disinformation” and “misinformation,” has come under increased scrutiny from House Republicans for her involvement with the Election Integrity Partnership, which suppressed speech before the 2020 election, and the defunct Misinformation and Disinformation Subcommittee of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Starbird apparently had an even more significant relationship with Big Tech, as she provided guidance on content moderation strategies.

The disclosure emerged from the transcript of a voluntary interview Starbird conducted on June 6 last year with the House Judiciary Committee, which has not been publicly disclosed but was recently reviewed by the Washington Examiner.

On June 26, 2023, the panel published a report through its Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee, accusing CISA of colluding with Big Tech and “disinformation” partners to censor Americans. Starbird was prominently mentioned in the report 41 times, primarily due to her role on the CISA panel. This panel also included former Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde, known for her involvement in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story.

Starbird  recently made an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes to address concerns regarding misinformation on social media and her efforts to combat it. However, Republicans criticized CBS for failing to disclose Starbird’s involvement on the CISA panel and the funding her University of Washington program received. Specifically, the program received $2.25 million in 2021 from the National Science Foundation for initiatives aimed at mitigating online disinformation.

The Center for an Informed Public, which has received funding from left-wing foundations, collaborated in 2020 with an office at Stanford University to establish the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP). The EIP, in conjunction with CISA and the State Department's Global Engagement Center, identified and reported instances of “misinformation” to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in 2020.

Additionally, the FBI collaborated with the EIP and the panel under CISA, which, in 2020, initiated the practice of informing social media platforms or appropriate law enforcement officials about instances of voting-related disinformation on social media, as indicated by the inspector general's office for the DHS.

During the transcribed interview last year, Starbird claimed that she did not directly interact with social media companies in her capacity with the EIP. Instead, she perceived Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook and later the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory within the EIP until November 2023, as the leader of the EIP, according to her testimony.

During her tenure as a member of the CISA panel in 2021 and 2022, Starbird received advice from former CIA legal adviser Suzanne Spaulding not to exclusively concentrate on addressing foreign threats, according to meeting notes. Meeting notes from 2022 also indicate that Starbird expressed the view that CISA should have a role at the national level in addressing purported disinformation and misinformation.

CISA has allocated millions of dollars to a nonprofit organization known as the Center for Internet Security (CIS), which oversees the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC). The House GOP has criticized this arrangement, referring to the EI-ISAC as the government's “external censorship arm” due to its role as a primary channel for election officials to report false or misleading information to social media platforms.

Source: The Washington Examiner



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