ANALYSIS – As many Americans shudder at Big Tech social media platforms’ censoring everything from legitimate news stories to innocent comments, many have argued that they are private companies. As long as the government doesn’t censor – it is ok.
Well, ignoring the fact that there is a very good argument that Big Tech is often – at least seemingly – colluding with some in government to censor dissenting views, the government now is also doing it as well.
Welcome to the dangerous, unconstitutional, and Orwellian world of the federal government combatting ‘disinformation’ and ‘election interference.’
Last week the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Office of Public Affairs released an announcement: “Social Media Influencer Charged with Election Interference Stemming from Voter Disinformation Campaign,” read the headline of a press release from the DOJ’s Eastern District of New York.
The DOJ press release explained:
A Florida man was arrested this morning on charges of conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election to use various social media platforms to disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.
However, as Daniel Horowitz notes, this is not a case of actual voter fraud or election tampering, it is a case of someone sending satirical election-related memes. Horowitz asks:
Did this guy throw out ballots or engage in mail-in fraud like endless witnesses said in sworn affidavits and in testimony before legislatures? No, the DOJ is not interested in tangible fraud that involves an action; in fact, it is investigating any DOJ official who might have sought to investigate such fraud. It only prosecutes speech.
Horowitz continues: “After several paragraphs of DOJ officials bloviating about constitutional rights to vote, they finally announced his crime.” DOJ said:
As alleged in the complaint, between September 2016 and November 2016, in the lead up to the Nov. 8, 2016, U.S. Presidential Election, Mackey conspired with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates (the “Candidate”) to “vote” via text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting.
This sounds vague and idiotic enough, but what were the specifics? And how was this fraud? DOJ explains in embarrassing detail:
For example, on Nov. 1, 2016, Mackey allegedly tweeted an image that featured an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for [the Candidate]” sign. The image included the following text: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text ‘[Candidate’s first name]’ to 59925[.] Vote for [the Candidate] and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by [Candidate] for President 2016.”
As Horowitz notes:
Folks, this is very scary. No, not the alleged crime, but that the feds are going after such behavior while ignoring sworn allegations of mass fraud. While what is alleged appears to be mean and spiteful, at the end of the day, there is no way to actually steal a vote with this subterfuge. Not unless someone thought that, based on a random internet tweet, they could vote via text, and without verifying anything thereafter, would have sent their text and then stayed home. By this standard, every governor who violated election law and actually facilitated the casting of ballots not pursuant to law should be in jail.
We are now witnessing the beginning of a very slippery slope for the government to prosecute people for saying anything that the government believes is harmful.
Moving forward, as Horowitz rightly argues, it is not that hard to envision an FBI agent knocking on your door and saying, “You just wrote information telling people masks don’t work and to stop wearing them. You are engaging in fraud and are an accessory to murder.”