In a direct letter, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) issued a warning to Stanford University, threatening to enforce a subpoena if they continue to withhold information regarding their Internet Observatory program’s process of identifying and categorizing what they consider misinformation.
The letter, sent Thursday, explicitly notified Stanford University’s legal team about their inadequate compliance with a subpoena issued in April. The documents in question pertain to the involvement of the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) in the censorship of what they deem as “disfavored speech.”
Stanford University was given a deadline of June 14 to comply with Congressman Jim Jordan’s demands, after which the committee will be compelled to explore potential enforcement mechanisms. According to The Daily Wire, these mechanisms may encompass options such as criminal contempt of Congress, civil enforcement or the use of inherent contempt.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) June 1, 2023
Conservatives are strongly criticizing two initiatives developed by the SIO program that employ the Jira Ticketing System to identify purported misinformation.
The SIO program, established in 2019, has faced backlash, specifically regarding the Election Integrity Partnership and the Virality Project. In sections 18 and 19 of the Twitter Files, these projects were exposed for collaborating with the federal government to censor viewpoints as misinformation, even if the information was eventually verified as accurate. The projects primarily focused on addressing voter fraud during the 2022 election and examining the COVID vaccine.
The Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, operating under the House Judiciary Committee, is seeking explanations regarding censorship practices on social media platforms.
Jordan maintains that the SIO was aware of and actively participated in the implementation of such censorship measures.
In his letter, Jordan said, “Individuals affiliated with SIO tracked both specific posts and entire ‘narratives’ through the Jira ticketing system and shared them, at a minimum, with large social media companies. Public and non-public information obtained by the committee confirms that large social media companies moderated content based upon these tickets and other information shared by Stanford personnel.”
Jordan went on to request committee access to “all Jira tickets and related communications to social media companies, which document purportedly false content posted online.”
Jordan remarked that John Bellinger III, the attorney representing Stanford from Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, “confirmed” that the university possesses documents and communications pertaining to the Jira tickets. However, Stanford refuses to provide them.