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The Censorship Industrial Complex

The Censorship Industrial Complex

Dec 8, 2023

The Censorship Industrial Complex


In an age where information is both currency and weapon, understanding the dynamics of censorship and control over narratives is critical. The following blog post provides a summary of a conversation with Mike Benz, the executive director at the Foundation for Freedom Online, who offers a deep dive into what he terms the "censorship industrial complex" and its implications for truth and freedom in our society.


The conversation with Mike Benz sheds light on the intricate web of relationships and mechanisms that constitute the censorship industrial complex. This complex is compared to the military-industrial complex, where war became a profit-making industry post-World War II, warping foreign policy to serve industrial stakeholders. Similarly, social media censorship has evolved into an industry post-2016, with significant influence from federal agencies like the State Department, the Defense Department, and intelligence services.

Mike Benz traces the origins of tech companies' integration with intelligence agencies to their inception, highlighting Google's beginnings as a DARPA-funded project. The post-2016 election period marked a critical tipping point, with the State Department and intelligence agencies doubling down on controlling online narratives to maintain the status quo, as seen in the Philippines, Brexit, and the US presidential election.

The Twitter files, brought to light by Elon Musk, underscore the extent of the intelligence community's involvement in shaping online discourse. Benz also touches on the role of NGOs as government cutouts, executing the will of intelligence agencies and shaping information ecosystems worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • Censorship Industrial Complex: A term coined to describe the interwoven network of social media censorship, stakeholders, and federal agencies that control and manipulate public discourse.
  • Tech Company Origins: Many tech giants, like Google, have deep-rooted connections to intelligence agencies dating back to their founding, with projects funded by entities such as DARPA.
  • Post-2016 Shift: The loss of control in key elections globally led to a concerted effort by federal agencies to clamp down on internet freedom to preserve international order and prevent the rise of populism.
  • Twitter Files Revelation: Elon Musk's exposure of Twitter's internal communications revealed the depth of collusion between tech companies and intelligence agencies.
  • NGOs as Government Proxies: Non-governmental organizations, often funded by the government, play a pivotal role in shaping and enforcing censorship policies domestically and internationally.
  • Justice Department's Role: The politicization of the Justice Department poses a significant threat to democracy, with selective prosecution and non-prosecution of crimes based on political alignment.
  • Local Action and Awareness: Engaging in local politics and spreading awareness through conversations are effective ways to combat the censorship industrial complex.
  • Potential for Optimism: Despite the challenges, the growing awareness of the problem and the rise of alternative media provide hope for change and the restoration of free speech.

The conversation with Mike Benz is a reminder of the importance of vigilance and participation in the fight for freedom and truth in the digital age. It is essential to understand the forces at play and to engage in spreading awareness and supporting initiatives that promote transparency and free speech.


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