The Intercept’s Story About Government Policing Disinformation Is ‘Journalistic Malpractice’

Mike Masnick, Techdirt:

Do not believe everything you read. Even if it comes from more “respectable” publications. The Intercept had a big story this week that is making the rounds, suggesting that “leaked” documents prove the DHS has been coordinating with tech companies to suppress information. The story has been immediately picked up by the usual suspects, claiming it reveals the “smoking gun” of how the Biden administration was abusing government power to censor them on social media.

The only problem? It shows nothing of the sort.

I linked to this story earlier this week, but I think you owe it to yourself to read Masnick’s more careful interpretation, too. It does seem like the Intercept’s reporters on the story, Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang, took liberties with the context of quotes and misrepresenting what officials were actually doing.

The Intercept’s reporting usually strikes me as more careful to adhere to documented evidence, even if it is sometimes dramatic. This is a sloppy effort. While it does appear to be true that officials sometimes flag social media posts that may cause confusion about U.S. elections or offer dangerous COVID-19 health advice, the claims made by Klippenstein and Fang are a stretch. Besides, if you are concerned about moderation by social media platforms, does it not seem better for health misinformation to be flagged by representatives of the Surgeon General instead of relying on underpaid and overworked contractors?