Harvard/Harris: Two-Thirds of Voters Believe Social Media Engaged in Politically-Motivated Censorship and Demand Congressional Action

Twitter LogoThe December Harvard CAPS / Harris Poll is out this week and Mark Penn and his colleagues have some interesting results to share. Despite the refusal of many in the media to cover the Twitter files, nearly two-thirds of voters believe Twitter shadow-banned users and engaged in political censorship during the 2020 election. Seventy percent of voters want new national laws protecting users from corporate censorship.

This week, the media continued to fulfill that common view of a de facto state media by ignoring new evidence of FBI coordination in censorship targets with Twitter in the latest news blackout.

On Friday, Twitter released additional information showing that the FBI and CIA actively pushed for censorship, supplying lists of accounts to be suspended or banned.

Journalist Matt Taibbi described Twitter as acting as a “subsidiary” of the FBI and wrote that “between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.

The evidence continues to establish a system of censorship by surrogate or proxy.  While the First Amendment applies to the government and not private corporations generally, it does apply to agents or surrogates of the government. Twitter now admits that such a relationship existed between its former officials and the government.

Once again, however, the major networks and newspapers have largely ignored the story. There has been a full mobilization of media, political, and business interests against Elon Musk and Twitter to oppose the restoration of free speech protections at the company. The media is heavily invested in suppressing this story after years of denials of any problems of censorship. Previously, they denied censorship was occurring. When such censorship became obvious, they denied that there was any involvement of the FBI and the government. Now that such involvement is confirmed, they are simply not covering the story.

Instead, the media is “all-in” on the doxxing suspensions (which Musk has now lifted).  I have been critical of Musk’s response to the doxxing controversy.  In part this is due to the scope of the suspensions and the fact that they occurred only 24 hours after the new policy was implemented. I would have preferred warnings and further clarity on the issue, particularly in what constituted doxxing in some of these tweets from journalists.

Despite the overwhelming coverage, there is little explanation of the media’s approach to the underlying doxxing question. Some have said that this is a “grey area” or may be below the threshold.

For years, the media has supported suspensions due to doxxing. In this case, the location of Musk’s plane may have been used by an individual to threaten his family. Most reports omit any discussion of whether the sending of such live locations information is doxxing. If it is, it has long been banned by most sites and journalists are not exempt.

Previously, figures connected with mainstream media from CNN to the Washington Post have been accused of doxxing. Liberal groups were accused of doxxing conservative justices and others, including dangerously posting information on the children of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. It does not seem to matter when the targets are conservative, Republican, or libertarian.

Writers who have long advocated the banning of others with opposing views are some of the loudest objecting in the wake of the doxxing controversy. The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz expressed fear that she could be next. It may not be a groundless fear since Lorenz has been previously accused of doxxing others and described the reintroduction of free speech protections for others as the opening of “the gates of hell.”

Jack Sweeney, the creator of this site (using publicly available information), has expressed shock at being sued and suspended. However, these articles continue to tellingly omit one of the critical issues. Is it doxxing to supply people with the minute-by-minute movement of the plane used by Musk and his family? That would seem relevant to weighing the merits of these suspensions.

Such slanted coverage is clearly losing its hold on the public or its view of Twitter. Indeed, the media continues to write off a large percentage of readers and viewers with openly biased coverage. The public is not buying it. It is buying Twitter. Not only are users signing up in record numbers, but a recent poll shows a majority of Americans “support Elon Musk’s ongoing efforts to change Twitter to a more free and transparent platform.”

In the wake of the latest release, the FBI issued a statement that said that there was nothing to see here and that “the FBI regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities.”

The statement is notable for what it does not contain: any recognition of the seriousness of the allegations or pledge to conduct its own investigation in whether this relationship crossed over to de facto government censorship.  According to some reports, as many as 80 FBI agents may have been tasked to assist in the censorship efforts. Yet, the FBI has offered little more than a shrug in the face of credible constitutional concerns.

According to the Harvard/Harris poll, the public believes that such censorship occurred and warrants action. The denials of the FBI and the dismissal of the mainstream media will only serve to magnify such calls for action.


345 thoughts on “Harvard/Harris: Two-Thirds of Voters Believe Social Media Engaged in Politically-Motivated Censorship and Demand Congressional Action”

  1. The 300to 100 speak for themselves. It’s up to you if your going an institutional review board to be legit. I b believe you don’t want to know. Come with us. We offer you an attempt at happiness. Bean pot.

  2. Social media are private properties.

    The only possible Congressional action is amendment of the Constitution.

    “[Private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

    – James Madison

    5th Amendment

    No person shall be…deprived of…property,…nor shall private property be taken for public use,….

    1. Private companies.
      That is true. But that doesn’t give them free reign. Perfect examples are anti trust laws, as well as laws against price gauging. What Twitter and the FBI and CIA was doing, was the same thing as having both sitting on the boards of the NYT and NBC before the advent of social media. I hope you don’t think that would have been proper.

    2. But a law would NOT violate any Constitutional protections would it? Don’t the Constitutional protections merely limit what GOVERNMENT can do?

      So only a law need be passed without requiring a Constitutional amendment?

  3. Think of the government, corporate media, big tech and academia as a malign immune system acting to protect the sanctity of the body politic in which it operates. Like lymphocytes, macrophages, T-cells, and antibodies, each has a specific function. Yet they act together to defend their interests against perceived threats. To eliminate unwanted objects from the body they mistakenly view as their own.

    Once it perceives a threat, the malign immune system swarms to isolate, surround, and destroy its enemies. Always present, the malign immune system has been overstimulated since Donald Trump entered on the scene in 2016. So much so that the malign immune system has become an auto-immune disease. Left unchecked, it will attack and destroy the body – the very nation – in which it has evolved to thrive.

    What is the therapy? How do we restore the health of our nation? By ending the censorship regime, demanding transparency, and seeking accountability for the malign influences that are a mortal threat to our nation.

    1. Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself – I love this analogy. To continue it (with perhaps a slight alteration in the metaphor), sunlight will be the best disinfectant to get rid of this disease.

  4. Can’t wait to read @mtaibbi’s thread about what Musk said behind the scenes in deciding to ban Taylor Lorenz.

  5. In this sordid affair, there are two despicable types: Government fascists censoring Americans, and their Apologists. I’m not sure which type is worse. It might be a tie. They need each other.

    1. Sam, You are correct.

      To achieve the full effect of subversion, suppression of truth and apologetics work hand in glove. If something is true and it is true truth, then thee is no argument and there should be no fear of free speech or debate. If a narrative is not based on truth then it cannot withstand scrutiny. It may take a long time to make the case, but in the end, it cannot endure.

  6. Has anyone noted the media, as in all the MSM, the magazines, the paper of record, etc – they are all as and more guilty than Twitter – they have been taking orders for a long time and that intensified in 2016 and since then.
    Of course they won’t cover the Twitter files – they might reveal they know way too much in some slip up…haha kidding, kinda.
    They aren’t covering it because they got their command not to, by the FBI, and the other 11 fed agencies doing the same thing.

    1. Correct, not just Social media, but all the media and all of big tech. Sports entertainment media, news media, social media and tech giants like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple all played a role in filtering info to protect Biden, Protect China over Covid and lie to help democrats win elections!

  7. Don Moynihan:
    “1. Musk’s claims that reporters doxxed him were false … [evidence]
    “2. One of the reporters (still) suspended wrote nothing about his flight data. They simply have covered Musk critically. … [evidence]
    “3. No direct relationship between Musk’s bans and his claimed motivation, which he characterized as a stalker endangering his kid. … [evidence]
    “4. Media companies faced a test when their reporters were unfairly banned. They failed it by not pushing back more aggressively, eg by suspending their participation on the site as long as the suspensions held. No-one did. They need to get ready for the next test now. … Media companies need to re-evaluate their participation on a website where the new owner is opposed to journalistic values, esp. when they clash with his business interests or worldview. They have more leverage than any individual user here. Do better.”

    1. Funny how all of a sudden you only notice it happening now, when Musk is trying to make a point about how the platform treated truth before he bought it. Typical hypocrite, Democrat, total absence of intellectual honesty in your posts.

    1. EU is very similar – atleast in effect.

      There are some serious differences between US and world copyright laws, but these do not have anything to do with copy large portions of a copyrighted work.

  8. I wonder how the word has been getting out considering Fox and other conservative outlets are the only ones giving reasonable prime time air.
    Could it be a recognition that once you lose free speech, you will never get it back. Naaaa.

  9. Even Bari Weiss and Ben Shapiro are saying Elon shouldn’t be banning these journalists. They agree it’s hypocritical of Elon to ban them.

    “”The old regime at Twitter governed by its own whims and biases and it sure looks like the new regime has the same problem,” she wrote in comments pointed at Musk.”


    Even Weiss is saying Elon is being a massive hypocrite.

    1. You’re lucky I do’t own Twitter. I’d ban, or at least flag, every major ‘news’ reporter and media org. that ever said or printed The Laptop is Russian disinformation. .. which is basically all of them.

      *start over from scratch.

    2. No she said she had concerns.

      Musk’s actions followed the rules.
      One of the Twitter files major revalations was that Twitter did not follow its own rules.
      People could not know what would get them banned.

      There is an argument that Musk acted to quickly – the rule was announced and 24hrs later suspensions occurred.
      Several people suggested issuing warnings first.

      Regardless, I suspect you will find that 90% of twitter users support this rule.

      1. Weiss was calling Musk a hypocrite. She accused him of doing what the old twitter used to do.

        “ People could not know what would get them banned.”

        Given Musk’s fickle moods people still don’t know what could get them banned.

        1. Rather than your spin this is exactly what Weiss said.


          There has been some subsequent exchange, between Musk and Weiss which the media, like you is trying to paint as acrimonious.
          It is not.
          It is a difference of opinion.

          While in a perfect world Musk could have dealt with the suspension of journalists better,

          The FACT is that someone tried to accost his family relying on real time location data, Musk immeidately extended the existing doxxing policy to include location information, and publicly announcing that change, and journalists responded nearly immediately by violating that policy.

          Everything occurred transparently, even if rapidly.
          Weiss has a child and has recieved her own share of threats – both recently and while she was at NYT.
          And I think if she spent a moment thinking about someone accosting her child she might better understand.

          Regardless, the relationship between Weiss and Musk has not turned sour.
          They are having an honest and open discussion.

          And Weis has not backed down an inch regarding the bad conduct at Twitter prior to Musk.

          Musk’s moods are not fickle. Frankly he is surprisingly predictable.

          He is doing very much what I predicted – or where I did not predict, what I would expect given the facts.

          I never expected Twitter under musk to be an anything legal goes free speech platform.

          There is a place for that. Gab is pretty close to that, but it is a niche market.

          Musk is looking to make Twitter the Amazon of Social Media.
          That means he must maximize users. He can afford to lose one left wing nut if he can add 10 people on the right.
          But he can not afford to on NET lose users
          Further conservatives are NOT really free speech types – that is libertarians.
          But they are vigorously opposed to political censorship.
          They will be happy to see stuff that is not family friendly censored.

          You keep claiming Musk is a hypocrite.
          What he is, is a businessman.

          I think he is having fun at Twitter. I think he enjoys being cheif twit.

          But the exposure of past misconduct is NOT his focus even though it is the focus of the left.

          He is working to make valuable incremental improvements to twitter as quickly as possible.

          What we are seeing and what you should have expected is:

          The end of arbitrary censorship.
          Clear rules, a clear appeals process, the elimination of bias in the process, less ability to politically game the process.
          Musk did not promis to end banning or shadow banning. He promissed to be transparent about it.
          From day one he declared war on Bots.
          From day one he declared war on child porn.

          Before he walked in the front door, he made it clear that he was going to make twitter much mroe efficient.
          That meant lots of people were getting laid off.
          If you expected otherwise you were an idiot.
          It was also predictable that most would be in content moderation – as that is the low hanging fruit.
          Musk will be focused on algorithm driven content moderation – that is much more efficient.
          Use humans to handle appeals.

          I am surprised it took so long for Musk to do something about the guy tracking his jet.
          Musk made it clear he was very unhappy with that – and rightly so.
          And that he was not being blackmailed.
          After the attack on his family he is now in court over this. And he may prevail.
          Stalking is illegal in most of the country – even digitally.

          Regardless predicatable people are obviously not fickle.

        2. The Fed just announced that they have been overstating employment by about 1.1M jobs for the past year.
          That will be a big hit to Biden’d jobs numbers.

          And nearly everyone believes the worst is coming.

          There are bad signs throughout the economy and also accross the world.

          The past year was not good, but it is going to get worse.
          The US is headed into recession.
          The EU has been in recession and it is going to get worse.
          The EU will survive this winter – but there will be 3-5000 excess deaths from the cold, due to energy.
          Energy prices are through the roof and will get worse in the EU.

          In Japan the Yen is getting massacred by the Dollar – if you ever wanted to visit Japan now is the time.
          Their economy has been stagnant for 3 decades and is about to go into recession.
          They have enormous debat which will choke recovery.
          The last time the Yen crashed – was the Asia bust that took out most of Asia financially for a couple of years.
          China has had to measure huge financial problems, and they are now in the midst of Covid blasting through a country with no immunity at all.
          And Russia is probably about 9months from their own economic collapse.
          Historically failing regimes do not go quietly into the night.

          1. Please do not buy Svelaz’s garbage.

            I frequently disagree with Bari Weiss, but she is an excellent and honest journalist, and that is rare today.

    3. So you only listen to conservatives when it suites you? Musk didn’t do it to swing an election, or push Government narratives. Surely a person with even the most basic intelligence can understand the difference?

  10. Harvard/Harris: Two-Thirds of Voters Believe Social Media Engaged in Politically-Motivated Censorship and Demand Congressional Action

    Two-Thirds of Voters are delusional. These Voters are addicted to the endorphin rush Social Media they receive when their surveillance/tracking device (ie stupid phone) alerts them that their favorite (or not) personality has tweeted or posted another emoji on whichever platform they use to disseminate the latest meme.

    In a sane/rational nation Voters would Demand Congressional Action into excessive levels of government spending, excessive levels of taxation, excessive war-making, excessive levels of government surveillance, excessive levels of government graft (etal).

    But – alas it is not to be as Voters would rather be entertained on Social Media to their and the nations detriment.

    Their 21st century rallying cry should be – Give me entertainment or give me death.

    1. You can identify the delusional ones by figuring out which ones voted for Biden and still support Democrats.

  11. The FBI says ““the FBI regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities…”

    But then the list is filled with Twitter users who have nothing to do with foreign anything, or anything subversive, undeclared, covert or criminal. It almost seems like you get on their list for “Disrespect of Democrat……” Seriously, FBI? Can’t do better than that?

    1. “the FBI regularly engages with private sector entities to provide information specific to identified foreign malign influence actors’ subversive, undeclared, covert, or criminal activities…”

      Not only is that NOT what they are doing. It is also NOT what they should be doing.

      If the FBI is investigating a criminal – they would issue a warrant for SM records, not try to get SM to thwart the criminal’s posts.
      The FBI would WANT actual criminals to post – that would provide evidence to convict.

      SM is Not the US Playground. People from all over the world post.

      There are legitimate Reasons for FBI to monitor SM.
      There are none for it to supress content.

  12. Jonathan: In your column you claim Musk had a right to suspend those who allegedly were “doxxing” him. In particular you say “the location of Musk’s plane may have been used by an individual [Jack Sweeney] to threaten his family”. Sweeney claims he did not intend to threaten Musk or his family. In a USAToday interview with Sweeney today, the 20 yr old University of Central Florida sophomore, says tracking the planes of the rich and famous is quite common. It’s public, not private information, and can be found on many apps. So Sweeney was not “doxxing” nor were apparently any of the journalists Musk suspended. It’s just a red herring Musk used to justify his unwarranted actions. And you have bought into Musk’s false claims.

    You also claim “the public is not buying it [the alleged “slanted coverage” of Twitter]. It is buying Twitter”. It’s that’s the case how do you explain why Musk just sold $3.6 billion of his Twitter shares. It appears he is using his Tesla account as an ATM to pay for the red ink at Twitter. One comment on Market Watch’s report of the sale was this: “Don’t worry, Musk simps will just say this is some 3D chess move while the sucker Tesla shareholders are left holding the bag. Meanwhile, Tesla is no longer a compelling model. It’s home solar business is a dog….but just wait, the cyber-truck, or the roadster, or full-self driving will save the day!”

    A lot of Tesla shareholders are upset and calling for the Tesla Board to fire Musk before their stock turns into pennies. Musk doesn’t care. He staked his reputation on the Twitter boondoggle and he needs a lot of money to protect his investment even if it means stealing from Tesla shareholders and employees. It doesn’t appear major advertisers are going to return because Twitter has been turned into a cesspool of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and lies–all thanks to Elon Musk! The big Q is how much longer will you continue to defend Musk’s missteps?

    1. I don’t think Musk expected so many advertisers would join the censorship “side”, and not advertise on a free speech platform. Who does that in America? Obviously, pressure is being applied by big money multinational’s who feel free speech as just one more stupid American idea.

      1. Yep, who would have thought that advertisers would shy away from a site that allows hate speech. It’s great for business!

        1. Hate speech is way down below what is was before.
          Advertising is actually up.

          Who would have guessed that advertisers want to come to sites with more users.

          1. It isn’t, and they note that their current analysis occurred after “removing viral Tweets from our data set.”

            1. ATS, it seems you are fond of copies, both on Twitter (viral tweets) and votes (harvested/trafficked).

              That meets my expectations of you. I often criticize you for not being original.

            2. Your posting as anonymous, so why are you to be treated as credible
              You provide no source
              who is “they” ?

              What has removing viral tweets have anything to do with anything ?

              The very brief – less than 1 day spike in “hate speech” was almost certainly from bots.
              Regardless, the moment Musks Bot throttling update went in, the spike ended.

              Using the same sources and measures that were being used pre-musk it is down 20%.

              As is typical of left wing nuts, you rely on naratives or individual data points not FACTS.

              Just today we find that CDC was pressured by anti-gun groups to stop any defensive use of guns studies because they were showing that guns actually reduce violence.

              This is typical of the left – the truth is whatever you say it is damn the facts.

              This is also why the censorship facts are so important. It establishes that we are being fed propoganda from the left.

              “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

              ― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

      2. Yet advertising revenues are up.

        Your stuck with old news.
        Most of those talking about reducing twitter add spending, did not.
        Musk replaced those that did.

        Twitter is growing after a long stagnant period – that appeals to advertisers.

        Just as there are companies that appeal to the left, there are also companies that appeal to the right.

        Who do you think Buys Ford Trucks ?

      1. Ck into that death/injury rate of the so called Vaccines/mRNA death Clot shots compared to booze over the last 40 years or so, I’m positive people should find them most interesting.

        LOL;) Smoking looks down right safe to me at this point.

    2. “doxxing”—the term used for the troll harassment technique of finding and then posting a user’s sensitive personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers.

      Today it is virtually never true that sensitive personal information is actually private.

      Doxxing is not a crime, it is however generally immoral.

      There is no legitimate need to know where unrelated people are who are unwilling to freely provide that informmation.

    3. Musk sold Tesla shares not Twitter shares.

      Tesla has 25% of the BEV market and is the largest EV and BEV maker in the world.
      Further Tesla’s sales are mostly unsubsidized. Other makers are federally subsidized.

      The Market is getting more competive.
      But Tesla is not failing.

      GM’s Market Cap is 51.4B
      Tesla’s is 471B almost 10 times as large.

      Even Toyota is only half the market Cap of Tesla.

      Tesla’s stock is down for the year – the same as Every other automotive company.
      We are heading into a recession.

      Tesla shareholders can make their own choices.

      There is no doubt that Twitter is taking musks attention away from Tesla.
      That is his choice and shareholders can decide they want a new CEO if they think that someone else could do better.

    4. Major advertisers have returned and advertising revenue is up.

      “hate speech” had a 1 day spike weeks ago and is now 20% below what it was prior to Musk’s takeover.
      Musk’s anti-bot efforts dramatically reduced hate speech and other problems.

      Regardless at the top of Musks list is stopping Child Porn. Not the agenda of left wing nuts.

      Most of the controversey’s over Twitter right now are a reflection of the fear of the left.

      Musk is cutting expenses radically, working on expanding twitters capabilities – better video capabilities competing with Youtube are high on his list. Musk’s goal is to make Twitter a $1T company – that is a 20 fold increase

      The nightmares of the left are not high on his priorities.

      In the past few days my twitter feed has turned into a cesspool of hate – all from the left.

    5. So you are taking the word of a 20 year old college sophomore and using it to make your political point……………brilliant!?!

  13. Thinkitthrough is right, we on the right don’t want the government controlling the media, including social media. That’s what you have in places like Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia. Leftists want government control of the media because how else can a censorship regime continue? And without censorship they lose their power. Power in the hands of the people is a nightmare to them. The people, you know, the deplorables, the bitter clingers, the semi-fascists, or any other pejorative they come up with to show their snobbery and hatred of good freedom-loving citizens. When one thinks of most of one’s countrymen as dumb, ignorant, unwashed masses, the riffraff of society, the commoners, the scum and dregs of society, then why wouldn’t the high and mighty want to silence them? It all comes down to what one thinks of one’s fellow citizens.

    1. I wouldn’t let them off the hook that easily. Their financial crimes, their high crimes and misdemeanors, their election cheating, their outrageous laws at state and local levels, their unhindered support for foreigners and enemies, their hatred of the USA, their rewriting of history, their sick new holidays, their endless subversion, their communistic policies, their unintended consequences – those are all reasons to silence their opposition.

  14. Us plebes don’t want congressional action to censor anyone. What us lowly citizens want is to keep the government from controlling the media. Us lowlifes of the nation don’t want the FBI to put there thumb on the scale. If enforcing the constitution to keep the FBI from influencing what we see and hear needs to be revisited than so be it. This is the part of the constitution that the so-called uninformed plebiscite understands all too well to the dismay of the our leftist detractors who tell us that we are just to stupid to understand all the nuance and complexity of the issues. Elitist one and all.

      1. Svelaz, so you are convinced that you are part of the 30 percent who are the enlightened of the nation. For a long time you have kept your elitism under raps but today you just haven’t been able to help yourself. You are of the ordained among us. Please excuse me for not recognizing your nobility. I can see now see that you are of the higher order. Please forgive my lack of knowing your place in the caste system of the universe. I genuflect.

        1. Tit, no elitism is involved here. All you are doing is showing everyone your ignorance and pride in it. Making that observation is not elitism. It’s just seeing what you are showing everyone else and ranting on and on just reinforces that observation and confirms it.

          1. Just stop posting. You are trying to make yourself sound intelligent and its clearly demonstrating the opposite is true.

      2. I thought you were big on democracy – isn’t the 70%+ automatically right ?
        Don’t we decide truth and facts by consensus ?

        1. A poll is not a democracy. It’s a bad replication of one. Especially when it’s a statistical analysis purporting to represent a number instead of the actual number.

          A majority in a democracy whether they are right or wrong is still going to be a majority opinion. We decide on majority consensus. Truth and facts are a separate argument.

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