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Elon Musk Names Obscure Agency as ‘Worst Offender’ in US Government Censorship

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has pointed to a little-known government agency as the “worst offender” in terms of U.S. government censorship and media manipulation, alleging that it flagged Twitter accounts for suppression based on dubious criteria like promoting the lab leak theory of COVID-19 origins.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Musk named the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) as a “threat to our democracy” and pointed to independent journalist Matt Taibbi’s extensive Jan. 3 thread that delves into the agency’s interactions with Twitter on content censorship.

Taibbi’s thread that Musk pointed to for more details on the GEC’s activity includes internal correspondence among Twitter executives that indicates that even they took a dim view of engagement with the GEC, considering it “political” and “press-happy” and as having a “track record of actively advancing specific ideological agendas.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the GEC with a request for comment but received no response by publication.

What Is the GEC?

The GEC is an entity within the U.S. government responsible for coordinating and supporting government-wide efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.

Founded in 2011, the agency was originally established as the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) within the Department of State. Its purpose was to support government agencies in communications activities aimed at countering violent extremism and terrorist organizations.

In 2016, the CSCC was transformed into the Global Engagement Center through Executive Order 13721, but its counterterrorism mission remained largely unchanged.

The agency says its main objectives are to detect, analyze, and counter disinformation and propaganda from foreign countries, and to promote fact-based narratives and policies to counter malicious influence and disinformation operations aimed at America and its allies.

The GEC works with a broad range of partners including other U.S. government agencies, the private sector, and foreign allies.

One of its lines of effort is to to play a coordinating role in the U.S. government interagency’s public exposure of foreign influence operations.

As part of this effort, the GEC accused China of coordinating with Russia to manipulate social media platforms to spread disinformation and push back on international criticism that Beijing didn’t do more to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Taibbi, in his thread about the GEC, referenced a February 2020 report that the agency published titled “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Concerns,” in which the GEC flagged accounts as “Russian personas and proxies” based on criteria like “Describing the Coronavirus as an engineered bioweapon,” blaming “research conducted at the Wuhan institute” for the virus’ spread, and “attributing the appearance of the virus to the CIA.”

The report also flagged accounts reposting news that Twitter had banned ZeroHedge after it was accused of “coronavirus conspiracy” and of doxxing a Chinese scientist, which led to “another flurry of disinformation narratives.”

ZeroHedge had run reports speculating that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan lab.

‘Russian Disinformation Apparatus’?

Lea Gabrielle, who at the time oversaw the GEC, told reporters in May 2020 that the agency had identified “a new network of inauthentic accounts” on Twitter that were meant to boost China’s narrative that it was not responsible for the global spread of COVID-19.

Gabrielle said that proxies of both China and Russia seemed to be working together in a “coordinated” bot campaign on Twitter to magnify this narrative.

“It’s our assessment that this network could be deployed to allow the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] to rapidly amplify and spread messages around the world, skewing the conversation to its benefit,” she told reporters at a press briefing on May 8, 2020.

She said it was “highly probable” that the effort was linked to the CCP, which is currently “engaged in an aggressive information campaign to try and reshape the global narrative around COVID.”

This campaign, she said, involves attempting to paint the regime “as a global leader in the response rather than the source of the pandemic.”

At the time, Twitter pushed back on some of those claims. It said it had received some 5,000 accounts from the GEC and, after carrying out an initial review, concluded that the accounts didn’t seem to be supportive of Chinese regime positions.

Many of the accounts also belonged to Western government entities, rights organizations, and journalists.

A State Department spokesperson said that the accounts it provided to Twitter represented a small sample of a dataset of nearly 250,000 accounts.

“It is not surprising that there are authentic accounts in any sample,” the spokesperson said. “Our overall analysis is based on a confluence of factors that drive our assessment, which we stand by.”

READ 3 COMMENTS
  • Another “gift” of the Obama Administration. Shut it down!

  • Bret says:

    Every agency in our federal government, when controlled by Democrats and rinos is a threat to our republic. These agencies have been given too much power by the executive and legislative branches of government ,which allows our politicians to do nothing except collect money for re-election.

    • Pissed off Americans says:

      Exactly ‘ That’s all Democrats and Republicans are good for. They are more focused on 2024, than they are the present. ITS all about them. NOT 1 WORD ABOUT Jan.6th jailed supporters. This surely proves we have a most Treasonous inhumane Government. We should overthrow them now. THE WHOLE LOT OF THEM ARE YELLOW BELLIED COWARDS!!!

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