Pro Publica: “In the subpoenas, Jordan asserted that the schools may have contributed to the Biden administration’s “censorship regime by advising on so-called misinformation. House Republicans have sent letters to at least three universities and a think tank requesting a broad range of documents related to what it says are the institutions’ contributions to the Biden administration’s “censorship regime.” The letters are the latest effort by a House subcommittee set up in January to investigate how the federal government, working with social media companies, has allegedly been “weaponized” to silence conservative and right-wing voices. So far, the committee’s investigations have amplified a variety of dubious, outright false and highly misleading Republican grievances with law enforcement, many of them espoused by former President Donald Trump. Committee members have cited supposed abuses that include the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, its investigations of Jan. 6 rioters and the Biden administration’s purported use of executive powers to shut down conservative viewpoints on social media. Now, universities and their researchers are coming under the spotlight of the committee, which the Republicans have labeled the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The letters, signed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is chair of both the House Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee, were sent in early March. They cover an investigation into how “certain third parties, including organizations like yours, may have played a role in this censorship regime by advising on so-called ‘misinformation,’” according to a copy of one of the letters obtained by ProPublica. The committee requested documents and information dating back to January 2015 between any “employee, contractor, or agent of your organization” and the federal government or social media organizations pertaining to the moderation of social media content. ProPublica confirmed the requests went to Stanford University, the University of Washington, Clemson University and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
The letters have prompted a wave of alarm among those in the field that the congressional inquiry itself, no matter what it finds, will lead universities to pull back on this research just as the 2024 election gets underway. “Recent efforts definitely have a chilling effect on the community of experts across academia, civil society and government built up to understand broader online harms like harassment, foreign influence and — yes — disinformation,” Graham Brookie, who leads studies in this area at the Atlantic Council, told ProPublica….”
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