Damning New Files Reveal Gov’t Efforts to Spy on, Silence Speech

November 30th, 2023 6:27 PM

New files reviewed by independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger reveal that data scientists and defense and intelligence veterans allegedly conspired to censor Americans via an “‘anti-disinformation’” group called the Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTIL).

In three X threads, Shellenberger and Taibbi wrote Nov. 28 that a whistleblower has come forward with damning documents further detailing the lengths to which U.S. and UK government agencies went to attack free speech online. The CTIL group purportedly started as a volunteer effort composed of data scientists and intelligence experts to prevent a repeat of Trump-2016 and Brexit but later evolved into a digital censorship conspiracy centered on relationships with U.S. federal government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Defense.

“Many people insist that governments aren't involved in censorship, but they are,” Shellenberger said in an X post. “And now, a whistleblower has come forward with an explosive new trove of documents, rivaling or exceeding the Twitter Files and Facebook Files in scale and importance.”

Shellenberger and Taibbi have both reported extensively on Big Tech censorship, including through exposing attacks on Americans’ free speech in the Twitter Files. Shellenberger noted that the new CTIL files, combined with the Twitter and Facebook files, “offer a comprehensive picture of the birth of the ‘anti-disinformation’ sector.”

According to Taibbi, the CTIL Files revealed that members of the group conducted “offensive” operations against the American people in contrast to the “defensive” nature of the Twitter Files.

“Unlike the #TwitterFiles, which detail mostly defensive activity like censorship and deamplification, the #CTIFiles show members instructed in a wide array of “offensive” operations, including infiltration, creation of fake personas, use of burner phones, and more,” Taibbi wrote of the second file dump.

Both Taibbi and Shellenberger wrote on X that the new files could be bigger than the Facebook Files and the Twitter Files combined.

As written by Shellenberger, the group thrived on pressuring social media networks to censor certain views in the name of national security:

“The CTIL framework…includ[ed] masking censorship within cybersecurity institutions and counter-disinformation agendas; a heavy focus on stopping disfavored narratives, not just wrong facts; and pressuring social media platforms to take down information or take other actions to prevent content from going viral.”

Taibbi, who wrote his own X threads on the file dump, reported that the group utilized “spy tactics” to censor the American people.

“While #TwitterFiles confirmed use of defensive tactics like censorship/deamplification, the #CTIFiles show ‘anti-disinformation’ operatives planning to go on offense to disrupt speech, using fake personas and spy tactics,” Taibbi wrote.

He added that members of the group created fake profiles to infiltrate groups they were suspicious about, known as a “spy disguise.” The members also allegedly used burner phones and email accounts.

Of particular note, Taibbi referenced the group’s request that memes making fun of the COVID-19 lockdowns online removed or “at a minimum reported and checked.” If the takedown operation failed, CTIL reportedly used a “troll” to join the group and combat the humor.

While United States government agencies frequently use “spy” tactics to combat terrorism and foreign influence operations around the world, the U.S. government is “‘expressly forbidden’ to operate they are not allowed to use them ‘against U.S. citizens.’”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech and U.S. government agencies be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the CensorTrack contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.