During a conference call about the Silicon Valley Bank bailout yesterday, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) asked representatives from the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation (FDIC) if they had a way to censor information on social media to prevent a run on the banks, according to Republican members of the House of Representatives who were on the call.
The members said there were roughly 200 people on the Zoom call, including Senators, House members, and staff members from both parties. “On our conference call, led by [Senate President Chuck] Schumer, with Fed, FDIC, and Treasury, a democrat senator asked the three agencies if there was a program underway on social media to censor information that would lead to a bank run,” Representative Thomas Massie told Public.
“I believe he couched it in a concern that foreign actors would be doing this,” said Massie, “but he didn’t suggest the censorship should be limited to foreigners or to things that were untrue. The people from the three agencies couldn’t answer him and just sort of took a pass on the question.”
Representative Lauren Boebert tweeted, “On a briefing with Biden Under Secretary of the Treasury Nellie Liang regarding the SVB [Silicon Valley Bank] BAILOUT they are working towards and a member asked if they were reaching out to Facebook and Twitter to monitor misinformation and ‘bad actors.’”
Representative Dan Bishop, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability, confirmed the accounts of Massie and Boebert, and a representative for Boebert’s office confirmed that the “member” she was referring to was a Democratic Senator.
“I have confirmed with [House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy that it was Senator Mark Kelley who asked on last night’s zoom call whether the call hosts (at Treasury, FDIC, etc) were interacting with SM platforms and on the lookout for foreign influence that might promote bank runs,” Representative Bishop told Public.
Democrats say Republicans are also calling for censorship.
A spokesperson for the Senate Banking Committee pointed Public to a statement by House Banking Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) as the only one they knew about that mentions social media.
“This was the first Twitter-fueled bank run,” said McHenry. “At this time, it is important to remain levelheaded and look at the facts—not speculation—when assessing the right path forward.”
But McHenry did not call for censorship, and his spokesperson told Public that he “in no way is advocating social media be muzzled.”
What’s more, Kelly’s call for censorship comes at a time of growing demands from Democrats for more censorship by social media companies:
— Last June, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) subcommitee on “protecting “Critical Infrastructure From Mis/Disinformation” proposed adding “financial misinformation” to the portfolio of social media categories within CISA’s purview to work with outside partners to censor;
— In December, the Federal Trade Commission demanded that Twitter owner Elon Musk “IDENTIFY ALL JOURNALISTS” who had access to the Twitter Files showing government agents demanding censorship;
— Last Wednesday, Senate President Chuck Schumer (D-NY) demanded that Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch stop reporting on video footage of January 6;
— Last Thursday, Congressional Democrats demanded that journalist Matt Taibbi reveal his sources to them;
— And now, Democrats are opposing the “Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act,” which was introduced last Thursday by Republican House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer, which prevents government employees from “using their official authority to influence . . . a third party . . . to censor speech.”
Why is that? Why are Democrats suddenly at war with the First Amendment? What exactly is going on?
Why Democrats Are Demanding Censorship
The U.S. Government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) “censorship subcommittee” is chaired by University of Washington’s Kate Starbird (Left). Starbird worked with Alex Stamos (Center) to run the “Election Integrity Project” and the “Virality Project.” Also involved is Renee Diresta (Right), who suggested in a 2021 CISA talk that EIP and VP were created to get around the First Amendment.