Michael Shellenberger: Leftists Push for Censorship of Encrypted Messages

April 28th, 2023 2:28 PM

Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger sounded the alarm on the expansion of the “Censorship Industrial Complex” based on new evidence. 

Now evidence shows the same campaign to target speech on Big Tech platforms was wielded against “supposedly encrypted text messages through apps like [Whats]App, Signal, and Telegram.”

Shellenberger tweeted April 26 as part of a thread that “new evidence” confirms he and fellow Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi were not “making a big deal about nothing” in their Congressional testimony about the “Censorship Industrial Complex.”

In fact, leftist entities like “The Omidyar Foundation” — founded by radical left-wing megadonor Pierre Omidyar —and media outlet WIRED were exposed as part of the push to spy on Americans and demand censorship of encrypted text messages.

The Twitter Files journalists were called “paranoid” for accusing the U.S. government of “spying on ordinary Americans and demanding censorship,” Shellenberger wrote. Critics claimed it was nothing but flagging content tech companies could choose to censor, he noted.

“As I noted in our video about CIA Fellow Renee DiResta, who oversaw the Censorship Industrial Complex’s effort to censor disfavored speech and disfavored users in 2020 and 2021,” Shellenberger wrote, “the social media companies responded to 75% of flagged posts and acted on one-third of them.”

Shellenberger quoted a January 2022 “misinformation” study funded by the Omidyar Network whining how there was allegedly no easy way to find supposedly “problematic content” on encrypted platforms. The report suggested “tiplines” as a solution. “‘On WhatsApp, a tipline would be a phone number to which WhatsApp users can forward potential misinformation they see to have it fact-checked’.”

The proposed tipline was just the "tip of the iceberg,” warned Shellenberger. A “think tank” called Meedan, which Shelenberger dubbed a Twitter "anti-disinformation partner," launched CryptoChat to push spying on encrypted or private messages. Omidyar Foundation had a similar campaign against so-called "wrongspeak." 

The 2022 report propagandized that “[r]eports of violence, disinformation, and manipulation campaigns originating on private messaging platforms have become all too common…dangerous platform design choices also have devastating implications for our democratic institutions.”

So the solution is just fueling the censorship machine more, of course. The privacy of end-to-end encryption might have to give way due to the supposed “‘rapid and large-scale spread of dangerous, distorted, and deceitful content,’” the report continued. 

Ultimately, Omidyar Foundation rejected privacy in text messaging in a “shocking statement,” Shellenberger wrote. Omidyar once pretended to be pro-free speech, but his actions say otherwise.

Pro-censorship WIRED also “called for spying on private messaging to prevent harm,” Shellenberger continued. WIRED claimed encrypted messaging “fueled abusive and illegal behavior, disinformation and hate speech, and hoaxes and scams.” 

“What is going on here?” Shellenberger concluded. “Why is the censorship industry now trying to spy on and censor our private messages?” Why, indeed?

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.