‘The Great Covid-19 Lie Machine’: Matt Taibbi’s latest Twitter Files dump delves into pandemic censorship

Journalist Matt Taibbi has dropped the “Twitter Files,” part 19 which is a lengthy look into Twitter’s communications with a Stanford-based coalition of researchers and analysts called the Virality Project who advocated for the censorship of so-called COVID misinformation.

Taibbi called the thread, “The Great Covid-19 Lie Machine, Stanford, the Virality Project, and the Censorship of ‘True Stories.’”

Internal emails included discussions of the “vaccine passport narrative,” a reference to fears that apps were being used to verify vaccination status and could limit freedoms in places such as New York City as well as other big leftist enclaves.

The project contended that the discussions about passports “have driven a larger anti-vaccination narrative about the loss of rights and freedoms.” Many of these emails appeared to formulate Twitter’s policies on the subject, including the echoing of the language that was used by the project in its briefings.

The Great Covid-19 Lie Machine
Stanford, the Virality Project, and the Censorship of “True Stories” pic.twitter.com/v41dyC26ZR

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

15. In one email to Twitter, VP addressed what it called the “vaccine passport narrative,” saying “concerns” over such programs “have driven a larger anti-vaccination narrative about the loss of rights and freedoms.”
This was framed as a “misinformation” event. pic.twitter.com/ZdbKE1tFac

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

The release of Dr. Fauci’s 2020 emails, reports of vaccinated individuals contracting COVID despite being vaccinated, natural immunity, suggesting COVID was “leaked from a lab,” and “worrisome jokes” were classified as potential misinformation and recommended for censorship by the Virality Project.

4.All were characterized as “potential violations” or disinformation “events” by the Virality Project, a sweeping, cross-platform effort to monitor billons of social media posts by Stanford University, federal agencies, and a slew of (often state-funded) NGOs.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

The Virality Project also claimed to be “honing in” on an “increasingly popular narrative about natural immunity” in a June 2021 email. That appears to be a reference to people developing immunity through exposure to COVID.

23.VP was repeatedly, extravagantly wrong. In one email to Twitter on “misinformation,” it spoke of wanting to “hone in” on an “increasingly popular narrative about natural immunity.” pic.twitter.com/KQGM42CAcl

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

Twitter was one of seven social media platforms that partnered with the project over what they labeled as misinformation during the pandemic.

6.We’ve since learned the Virality Project in 2021 worked with government to launch a pan-industry monitoring plan for Covid-related content. At least six major Internet platforms were “onboarded” to the same JIRA ticketing system, daily sending millions of items for review.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

Taibbi called the Virality Project’s collaboration with Twitter an “Orwellian proof-of-concept” of government, academics, and corporations working together to “control political messaging.”

9.Two, it accelerated the evolution of digital censorship, moving it from judging truth/untruth to a new, scarier model, openly focused on political narrative at the expense of fact.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

And all of this started right after President Biden took office. Twitter veterans Yoel Roth and Brian Clarke were predictably all in for the program, it would seem.

11. February 22, 2021: Stanford welcomed Twitter veterans like Yoel Roth and Brian Clarke, instructing them on how to join the group JIRA system. You can watch the friendly welcome video here: https://t.co/E2KfN87GlI

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

The Virality Project evidently wanted to worm its way into every social media platform out there including Gab, Parler, Telegram, and Gettr with an end game of “near-total surveillance of the social media landscape.”

12. March 2, 2021: “We are beginning to ramp up our notification process to platforms.” In addition to the top-7 platforms, VP soon gained “visibility” to “alternative platforms such as Gab, Parler, Telegram, and Gettr” – near-total surveillance of the social media landscape. pic.twitter.com/HEVXEtxuug

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 17, 2023

There is much, much more to the thread that can be found here.

According to its website, the Virality Project is a “coalition of research entities focused on supporting real-time information exchange between the research community, public health officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, and social media platforms.”

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