Judicial Watch Sues DOJ, Other Agencies for Records on Efforts to Censor Content on Social Media Platforms
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies for communications between the agencies and Facebook and Twitter regarding the government’s involvement in content moderation and censorship on the social media platforms.
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the DOJ and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:23-cv-01161)) after the FBI failed to respond to a November 2, 2022, FOIA request for:
All records related to the use of Facebook’s Content Request Government Reporting System by any official, employee, or contract employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This request includes, but is not limited to, the following:
All entries entered into the system by any official or employee.
Al records depicting the number of FBI employees with access to the system and their positions with the Bureau.
All policies, regulations, guidelines, or similar records related to the use of the system.
All related records of communication between any official or employee of the FBI and any officer, employee, or representative of Meta, Inc. (formerly Facebook, Inc.)
All related records of communication between any official or employee of the FBI and any official or employee of any other branch, department, agency, or office of the Federal government.
The lawsuit includes November 2, 2022, FOIA requests from Judicial Watch to the DOJ National Security Division, and DHS component Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency.
The lawsuit cites an October 31, 2022, report by The Intercept which details DHS involvement in an “expansive effort” to “influence tech platforms.”
“Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse,” the report says.
The Intercept report states: “There is also a formalized process for government officials to directly flag content on Facebook or Instagram and request that it be throttled or suppressed through a special Facebook portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use.”
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the DOJ, DHS, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) after the FBI failed to respond to a December 14, 2022, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:23-cv-01163)) for:
All records regarding any meeting between any official or employee 0f the Federal Bureau of Investigation and any of the following Twitter employees between June 1, 2020 and the present:
The request includes, but is not limited to, all related agenda, notes, summaries, reports, transcripts, and similar records created in preparation for, during, or pursuant to the meeting.
All records of communication between any official or employee f the Federal Bureau of Investigation and any of the following Twitter employees between June 1, 2020 and the present:
All records of communication between any official or employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and any official or employee of any other branch, department, agency, or office of the U.S. government regarding the meetings or communications described in parts one and two of this request between June 1, 2020 and the present.
Judicial Watch also sent December 14, 2022, FOIA requests to DHS and ODNI.
Roth, Gadde, and Baker were prominent in internal discussions at Twitter about censoring the New York Post Hunter Biden laptop story, journalist Matt Taibbi revealed on December 2, 2022 in the first release of the “Twitter Files.”
“The Biden administration’s ongoing censorship schemes are a clear and present danger to the First Amendment. It is no surprise these Biden agencies would hide documents that could further expose their lawlessness,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
In June 2023, Judicial Watch sued DHS for all records of communications tied to the Election Integrity Partnership. Based on representations from the EIP (see here and here), the federal government, social media companies, the EIP, the Center for Internet Security (a non-profit organization funded partly by DHS and the Defense Department) and numerous other leftist groups communicated privately via the Jirasoftware platform developed by Atlassian.
In February 2023, Judicial Watch sued the U.S. Department Homeland Security (DHS) for records showing cooperation between the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) and social media platforms to censor and suppress free speech.
Judicial Watch in January 2023 sued the DOJ for records of communications between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and social media sites regarding foreign influence in elections, as well as the Hunter Biden laptop story.
In September 2022, Judicial Watch sued the Secretary of State of the State of California for having YouTube censor a Judicial Watch election integrity video.
In May 2022, YouTube censored a Judicial Watch video about Biden corruption and election integrity issues in the 2020 election. The video, titled “Impeach? Biden Corruption Threatens National Security,” was falsely determined to be “election misinformation” and removed by YouTube, and Judicial Watch’s YouTube account was suspended for a week. The video featured an interview of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. Judicial Watch continues to post its video content on its Rumble channel (https://rumble.com/vz7aof-fitton-impeach-biden-corruption-threatens-national-security.html).
In July 2021, Judicial Watch uncovered records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which revealed that Facebook coordinated closely with the CDC to control the COVID narrative and “misinformation” and that over $3.5 million in free advertising given to the CDC by social media companies.
In May 2021, Judicial Watch revealed documents showing that Iowa state officials pressured social media companies Twitter and Facebook to censor posts about the 2020 election.
In April 2021, Judicial Watch published documents revealing how California state officials pressured social media companies (Twitter, Facebook, Google (YouTube)) to censor posts about the 2020 election.