Big Tech, Big Government, Big Brother: Washington’s War on Free Speech

An unprecedented assault on free speech is underway in America. The White House and government agencies play central roles. But because this new war largely takes place in the shadows of cyber-space, unfolding in back offices of social media giants like Facebook, YouTube, Google, TikTok and Twitter, the public has been slow to catch on to the threat.

In recent months, however, the House Judiciary Committee, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and Judicial Watch have each issued findings that break new ground. Taken together, they go a long way to dragging the war on the First Amendment into the sunlight. The main target of the new censorship efforts? Conservative speech, speakers, and viewpoints.

“The Weaponization of ‘Disinformation,’” a November report of the Judiciary Committee, concludes that the “world’s largest social media platforms…intentionally suppressed” constitutionally protected speech “as a consequence of the federal government’s direct coordination.”

The Fifth Circuit Court agrees. In State of Missouri v. Biden et al—an eye-opening October ruling that did not get the attention it deserved—the Court found that “the White House likely (1) coerced [social media] platforms to make their moderation decisions by way of intimidating messages and threats of adverse consequences, and (2) significantly encouraged the platforms’ decisions by commandeering their decision-making processes, both in violation of the First Amendment.”

Also in October, Judicial Watch released a groundbreaking four-part documentary “Censored and Controlled,” detailing the coordinated effort by Big Tech and the government to suppress debate on elections, Covid-19 information, and news of the Hunter Biden laptop. The documentary details efforts by Big Tech to censor content, exposing collusion between government and social media to suppress what Americans can see and hear.


The House report demonstrates, step by step, how the Department of Homeland Security worked with other government entities, Stanford University, and Big Tech to create an elaborate system to suppress speech. These efforts were centered in a group with a name straight out of Orwell: the Election Integrity Partnership.

The EIP was a consortium of academics led by Stanford University that worked “directly” with Homeland Security and the State Department “to monitor and censor American’s online speech,” the House report noted. “The EIP’s operation was straightforward: ‘external stakeholders,’ including federal agencies and organizations funded by the federal government, submitted [alleged] misinformation reports directly to the EIP. The EIP’s misinformation ‘analysts’ next scoured the internet for additional examples for censorship. If the submitted report flagged a Facebook post, for example, the EIP analysts searched for similar content on Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, and other major social media platforms. Once all of the offending links were compiled, the EIP sent the most significant ones directly to Big Tech with specific recommendations on how the social media platforms should censor the posts….”

The pressure from Big Tech “was largely directed in a way that benefitted one side of the political aisle: true information posted by Republicans and conservatives was labeled as ‘misinformation’ while false information posted by Democrats and liberals was largely unreported and untouched by the censors.” The EIP targeted “candidates and commentators with conservative viewpoints.” The report lists the targeted figures, which included Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, and Judicial Watch’s own Tom Fitton.

Last week, Judicial Watch sued the Department of Homeland Security for failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for all its records regarding JW and Tom. “Judicial Watch and I have been censored again and again by government and Big Tech,” Tom said in a statement. “That we had to file a federal lawsuit to get basic information about this targeting is another sure sign that [Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency] has been up to no good.”

The Fifth Circuit ruling also puts on the record many facts about the new censorship efforts. The court ruled in favor of the secretaries of state of Missouri and Louisiana and five social media users who alleged “that numerous federal officials coerced social-media platforms into censoring certain social- media content, in violation of the First Amendment.”

The ruling details pressure on Big Tech from the White House, the FBI, the Surgeon General’s Office, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Homeland Security. Each office, the ruling finds, “violated the First Amendment.”

The Court noted, for example, that in one email “a White House official told a platform to take a post down ‘ASAP,’ and instructed it to ‘keep an eye out for tweets that fall in this same genre’ so that they could be removed, too. In another, an official told a platform to ‘remove [an] account immediately’—he could not ‘stress the degree to which this needs to be resolved immediately.’ Often, those requests for removal were met.”

The White House stepped up the pressure in 2021, the court noted. It “started monitoring the platforms’ moderation activities…. In that vein, the officials asked for—and received—frequent updates from the platforms. Those updates revealed, however, that the platforms’ policies were not clear-cut and did not always lead to content being demoted. So, the White House pressed the platforms. For example, one White House official demanded more details and data on Facebook’s internal policies at least twelve times, including to ask what was being done to curtail ‘dubious’ or ‘sensational’ content, what ‘interventions’ were being taken, what ‘measurable impact’ the platforms’ moderation policies had, ‘how much content [was] being demoted,’ and what ‘misinformation’ was not being downgraded.”

Judicial Watch has been fighting the freedom of speech battle with major lawsuits. And in October, JW premiered “Censored and Controlled,” a four-part documentary that takes the viewer deep inside government censorship efforts, detailing controversies over free speech suppression on the site then known as Twitter, election interference, Covid-19, and the Hunter Biden laptop.

Clearly, Big Tech is “censoring content,” Tom Fitton told the filmmakers. It is “not following a set of rules but following government dictates and their own ideological predilections and political biases.”

The war over free speech and Big Tech is sure to grow more heated in 2024 with a presidential election, a crisis on the southern border, and wars in Ukraine and Israel. The stakes could not be higher. We’ll be watching closely.


View the Judicial Watch documentary, Censored and Controlledhere.

Read “The Weaponization of Disinformation,” Interim Report of the House Judiciary Committee, here.

Read United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, State of Missouri et al v. Joseph R. Biden et alhere.

Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Tips: [email protected]

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: [email protected]

You Might Like
The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.