April 27, 2021
Judicial Watch announced today that it received 540 pages and a supplemental four pages of documents from the office of the Secretary of State of California revealing how state officials pressured social media companies (Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube) to censor posts regarding the 2020 election.
The documents reveal what many have long suspected–that government officials are colluding with Big Tech to censor free speech.
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show how a California state agency successfully pressured YouTube to censor a Judicial Watch video concerning the vote by mail and a Judicial Watch lawsuit settlement about California voter roll clean-up.
The records were obtained in response to Judicial Watch’s open records request. Judicial Watch filed the requests after a December 2020 report surfaced that the a California state agency was surveilling, tracking, and seeking to censor the speech of Americans.
The December report showed that the California Office of Election Cybersecurity in the California Secretary of State’s office monitored and tracked social media posts, decided if they were misinformation, stored the posts in an internal database coded by threat level, and on 31 different occasions requested posts be removed. The report also reveled that that in 24 cases, the social media companies agreed and either took down the posts or flagged them as misinformation, according to Jenna Dresner, senior public information officer for the Office of Election Cybersecurity.
Responding to the December report, Dresner said:
“We don’t take down posts, that is not our role to play,” She continued, “We alert potential sources of misinformation to the social media companies and we let them make that call based on community standards they created.”
The newly obtained document shows California state officials contacted YouTube directly to remove the Judicial Watch video on September 24, 2020, and that YouTube seemed to respond by deleting the video on September 27, 2020.
The documents include a 30-page “Misinformation Tracking Sheet” which lists social media posts that the office disagrees with and asked the social media companies to remove.
Documents also show emails from California Secretary of State’s Office, Facebook and Twitter from April of 2020. In the emails, the secretary’s office asks the social media companies to remove tweets and posts the government labeled “misinformation.”
The documents further reveal that Maria Benson, director of communications for the National Association of Secretaries of State, emailed the communications directors for Secretaries of State offices that Twitter confirmed that they streamlined their process for government officials to report misinformation:
Great news—Twitter is now on-boarding states into their mis/disinformation partner support portal! Once on-boarded, you will be able to directly report mis/disinformation instead of having to submit it to me first….” [Emphasis in original]
Benson also gives contact information for Facebook and Google complaints, and says: “If any of the items you reported do not get prompt attention, please let me know and I can also reach out the companies.”
“These new documents suggest a conspiracy against the First Amendment rights of Americans by the California Secretary of State, the Biden campaign operation, and Big Tech,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“These documents blow up the big lie that Big Tech censorship is ‘private’ – as the documents show collusion between a whole group of government officials in multiple states to suppress speech about election controversies.”