“True Stories … Could Fuel Hesitancy”: Stanford Project Worked to Censor Even True Stories on Social Media

While lost in the explosive news about Donald Trump’s expected arrest, journalist Matt Taibbi released new details on previously undisclosed censorship efforts on social media. The latest Twitter Files revealed a breathtaking effort from Stanford’s Virality Project to censor even true stories. After all, the project insisted “true stories … could fuel hesitancy” over taking the vaccine or other measures. The effort included suppressing stories that we now know are legitimate such as natural immunity defenses, the exaggerated value of masks, and questions over vaccine efficacy in preventing second illnesses. The work of the Virality Project to censor even true stories should result in the severance of any connection with Stanford University.

We have learned of an ever-expanding coalition of groups working with the government and social media to target and censor Americans, including government-funded organizations.

However, the new files are chilling in the details allegedly showing how the Virality Project labeled even true stories as “anti-vaccine” and, therefore, subject to censorship. These files would suggest that the Project eagerly worked to limit free speech and suppress alternative scientific viewpoints.

Taibbi describes the Virality Project as “a sweeping, cross-platform effort to monitor billions of social media posts by Stanford University, federal agencies, and a slew of (often state-funded) NGOs.”

He added: “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.”

According to Taibbi, it targeted anyone who did not robotically fall in line with the CDC and media narratives, including targeting postings that shared “Reports of vaccinated individuals contracting Covid-19 anyway,” research on “natural immunity,” suggesting Covid-19 “leaked from a lab,” and even “worrisome jokes.”

That included evidence that it “knowingly targeted true material and legitimate political opinion, while often being factually wrong itself.”

The Virality Project warned Twitter that “true stories … could fuel hesitancy,” including stories on “celebrity deaths after vaccine” and the closure of a central New York school due to reports of post-vaccine illness.

The Project is part of the Cyber Policy Center at Stanford and bills itself as “a joint initiative of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Law School, connects academia, the legal and tech industry and civil society with policymakers around the country to address the most pressing cyber policy concerns.”

The Center launched the Project as a “a global study aimed at understanding the disinformation dynamics specific to the COVID-19 crisis.”

As with many disinformation projects, it became a source of its own disinformation in the effort to suppress alternative views.

It is being funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Hewlett Foundation.

On its website, it proclaims: “At the Stanford Internet Observatory our mission is to study the misuse of the internet to cause harm, and to help create policy and technical mitigations to those harms.” It defines its mission to maintain the truth as it sees it:

“The global COVID-19 crisis has significantly shifted the landscape for mis- and disinformation as the pandemic has become the primary concern of almost every nation on the planet. This has perhaps never happened before; few topics have commanded and sustained attention at a global level simultaneously, or provided such a wealth of opportunities for governments, economically motivated actors, and domestic activists alike to spread malign narratives in service to their interests.”

What is even more disconcerting is that groups like the Virality Project worked against public health by suppressing such stories that are now considered legitimate from the efficacy of masks to the lab origin theory. It was declaring dissenting scientific views to be dangerous disinformation. Nothing could be more inimical to the academic mission. Yet, Stanford still heralds the work of the Project on its website.

There is nothing more inherently in conflict with academic values than censorship. Stanford’s association with this censorship effort is disgraceful and should be a matter for faculty action. This is a project that sought to censor true stories that undermined government or media narratives.

I am not hopeful that Stanford will sever its connection to the Project.  Censorship is now the rage on campuses and the Project is the perfect embodiment of this movement. Cloaking censorship efforts in self-righteous rhetoric, the Project sought to silence those who failed to adhere to a certain orthodoxy, including scientific and public health claims that were later found flawed or wrong. The Project itself is an example of what it called “media and social media capabilities – overt and covert – to spread particular narratives.”

Stanford should fulfill its pledge in creating the Virality Project in fighting disinformation by eliminating the Virality Project.

72 thoughts on ““True Stories … Could Fuel Hesitancy”: Stanford Project Worked to Censor Even True Stories on Social Media”

  1. I bet JT still votes Democrat…..RIght?

    All you Dems are responsible for voting for this tyranny and lying for decades.

  2. By censoring true information the public was denied potentially life-saving information about adverse events associated with the “jab.” What were these people thinking? Hive-minded members of a cultists.

  3. I could go on and on about the anti-freedom of inquiry atmosphere for students and non-tenured professors at Stanford, but I fear it could make top candidates hesitant to apply.

    1. Sorry, I don’t understand your fear….shouldn’t top candidates attend good schools, rather than brain-washing factories?

  4. Free Speech died at Berkeley in the flames of the terroristic destruction of the Milo affair–they did $1 million in damage to stop a comedian from telling jokes they don’t like. Now RIP at Stanford too. Is there a single faculty member who will step up? At Berkeley Prof. Richard A. Muller had the guts to testify in DC regarding the evidence for deliberate alteration of the Covid virus while revealing “all my colleagues are well aware of this but they won’t say anything if it could help the Republicans”. Fiat Lux?! (His general audience books on energy are some of the best things ever written on the subject).

  5. What’s the difference between the American government and the CCP?……..I’ll need a few days to think of something.

  6. Regarding that warp speed COVID vaccine…

    Rushed, guaranteed to succeed, corruptly tested, experimental injection? ✓

    That killed and maimed well-over a thousand people during the severely abbreviated trial phase? ✓

    And also caused 23 spontaneous abortions and 75 serious clinical events from 270 expectant mothers during said trial? ✓

    Using a highly dangerous mRNA tech that in the past killed every mouse with ADE? ✓

    A tech previously untested on humans, the emergency usage of which upended over a century of vaccine safety and efficacy research? ✓

    For a virus far less deadly than the lockdowns themselves? ✓

    Also less deadly than the flu – which conveniently went AWOL when COVID hit the scene? ✓

    For a (cold) virus they’ve been unable to cure after over a century of trying? ✓

    But somehow all of a sudden, the criminal pharmaceutical companies – notorious for rampant felonious trial fraud – figured it out in less than a year? ✓

    And then went on to manufacture billions of quality assured, safe and effective doses at record speed which were then lawfully distributed by the US military? ✓

    People actually bought into this on a grand scale, and voluntarily injected this poison? ✓

    Extended version with embedded references here: https://tritorch.com/doormat

    1. All the truth-tellers have been forced to flee to Substack, which teems with evidence like you cite. Dr. Malone, Steve Kirsch, Alex Berenson, Naomi Wolf and her team that did the job the Despicable News Media refuses to do. There must be a hundred others, all censored off the “news”. The corporate media is a dog on a short leash for Big Pharma. Look up the “Heparin scandal” and wonder why this wasn’t on the news?

    2. Rushed, guaranteed to succeed, corruptly tested, experimental injection? ✓

      Everything you have said is wrong. Every single ridiculous accusation. The vaccine saved and prevented millions from the long term damage from Covid.

    3. And also caused 23 spontaneous abortions and 75 serious clinical events from 270 expectant mothers during said trial?

      We have fools spreading bullcrap endangering the public.

      Health authorities stress that pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk of experiencing severe disease and pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth or stillbirth.

      1. “Health authorities stress that . . .”

        Would that be the same “health authorities” who claimed that the vaccine prevents both the contraction and transmission of Covid? And who spread countless other falsehoods and lies. (Remember “flatten the curve?”)

        And therein lies the rub: Your “health authorities” have been so spectacularly wrong on so many Covid issues, have been caught suppressing dissenting arguments, have been busted spreading propaganda under the skirt of “science” — that now, good people do not know what or who to believe.

        When you’re incompetent, evasive, and refuse to admit a mistake, don’t expect good people to trust you.

        For the reading impaired: I am *not* claiming that the original commenter’s opinions are right or wrong.

      2. Conflict of interest statement
        Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Lipkind reported serving on the Pfizer independent external data monitoring committee for the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr Naleway reported receiving research funding from Pfizer for an unrelated study. Dr Vesco reported receiving research funding from Pfizer for an unrelated study. No other disclosures were reported. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34495304/

      1. These “Reply” comments are not landing where they should, completely messing up the connection with the original comment being replied to… grrrr

  7. This morning I was roused by a disturbing dream that the cowardly lion and the pride of republicans never find the courage to confront this afoul Woke movement. Having this dream made me question the categories that dreams could come in: peaceful, horrifying, terrifying, but gosh it really doesn’t matter does it, it’s just a dream. Then ‘I Woke’ up and suddenly realized that the horror of the dream is that the republicans without the courage to confront the Democrats and their legion of follower with every available resource will definitely lead to the demise of America.

    Daily we are made aware of a movement that is counter to God and our accepted Constitutional agreement. The Democrats’ and their legion continually attack every foundational freedom (you name it) while offering some nonsense as is exampled in today topic. These foolish nitwits must be shunned and ridiculed into oblivion to never be heard or seen again. The boondocks would be fine with me, just anywhere other than the Swamp will do.

  8. Surely, even the most docile followers at the far back of the propagandized herd that meanders ever further leftward will sooner or later see and feel the puppet strings of their illiberal masters and begin to wonder why it is they are being pulled away from truth. Is that great awakening just over the horizon? Let’s hope.

  9. not.so.old.man: Amen. I started to write something that parallels your first excellent paragraph but saw yours.
    I only add that I recall reading somewhere that Pfizer was the biggest pharma donator to Biden’s presidential campaign. And I also recall from the start, “senior citizens” were the targeted emphasis for vaccines. Think of all those government reimbursements to Big Pharma pursuant to Medicare/Medicaid!

      1. Replying to lin, March 19, 2023 at 12:43 PM
        And don’t forget that nearly every major news show in the U.S. is “brought to you by Pfizer”.

  10. “Stanford’s association with this censorship effort is” wonderful “and should be a matter for faculty action”, specifically begging for more of the same.

    There you go Jonathan. I fixed it for you. /sarc

  11. We have learned of an ever-expanding coalition of groups working with the government and social media to target and censor Americans, including government-funded organizations.

    Washingtome DC is very content to have us focus on “censorship” and even being tied to censorship. The swamp dwellers know the media is in their pocket. DC power elite actually want all the attention. They can posture with fixes to the problem they invented. But all the energy spent on censorship, keeps us busy. Not investigating how the grift actually works. It is in the agencies, funding the NGO’s (thats where all the kids, nieces and nephews, cousins and business partners kids find jobs with their worthless degrees in Woke) But the NGO’s also grant money out to other worthy non profits, being run by the actually elected Politicians.

    All the $billions going to Ukraine? 10% ends up in the pockets of DC politicians (via Hunter Biden/John Podesta clones) with a 10% cutout for the Big Guy.

    So go crazy about the govt sponsoring censorship. Its the shiny object to distract from the real DC game.

    1. iowan2 – but I think this new censorship regime has its own big-bucks reward. Keep in mind the Big Pharma-Government-Media complex. Notice how many of the “news” shows in the MSM are sponsored by Pfizer, Moderna, and so forth. Vaccine hesitancy, had it been more widespread, would have affected lots of people’s bottom line. Conversely, vaccine mandates were a financial bonanza to the interested parties. That bonanza is now revealed to be blood money given the adverse effects of the vaccine. Again, many parties are financially interested in censoring true information about those effects.

      And that’s just vaccines. Think also of the now hundreds of billions of dollars being funneled to interested parties relative to Ukraine. Stories which question America’s involvement in what appears to be the early stages of World War III can affect the bottom line of many parties, including those with no connection whatsoever to the conflict.

      One can come up with any number of such topics where the government is censoring truthful information in service of a financial reward (e.g., the open border with its drug and sex trafficking, woke curricula in schools, non-transitory inflation caused by out-of-control printing of money, and so forth).

      1. Transgenderism and climate catastrophism are other money spinners and also topics for the censors.

        The Republican House ought to stop appropriating any money for NGOs and private companies.

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