Michael Shellenberger Profile picture
May 13 7 tweets 7 min read Read on X
In 2021, the UK government said it had not weaponized the Army's "information warfare" unit, the 77th Brigade, against the British people. But it had. Thus, it lied.

Now, newly released and never-before-reported documents show that the UK government mislabeled accurate information as "malinformation" and sent defamatory misinformation to the US government.

How did the Army get away with it?

According to a new whistleblower from the 77th Brigade, it was by having soldiers pretend that the British citizens upon whom they were spying could, perhaps, be foreigners.

Most disturbing of all, newly obtained minutes from the UK government’s “Disinformation Board” show that senior UK officials considered embedding civil servants in social media companies.

Was that also the intention of the Biden Administration’s near-identically named “Disinformation Governance Board” of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?

Bombshell new reporting by @JHurfurt from @BigBrotherWatchImage
UK Government Used Army “PsyOps” Division To Monitor Citizens And Then Lied About It

British military officials also spread misinformation to the US, treated domestic victims of their spying as foreigners, and considered embedding government censors within social media companies

by @JHurfurt
British Army General Sir Nicholas Carter leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London on March 12, 2020, as a COBRA meeting on the government's response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak takes place. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

In January 2021, the UK government said that members of its infamous “77th Brigade do not, and have never, conducted any kind of action against British citizens.”

But it did. And thus, it lied.

In 2022, the NGO I work for, Big Brother Watch, began investigating the UK government's efforts to monitor social media posts and demand their censorship by the platforms. Over the next few months, we filed dozens of Freedom of Information requests, including for information on the 77th Brigade.

In other words, we discovered that the UK government had spread disinformation in the name of fighting misinformation.

The Army unit was not just involved in “countering misinformation,” it led the effort. The 77th Brigade monitored social media platforms throughout 2020 and worked alongside soldiers from the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) did not respond to requests to comment for this piece.

MoD created the 77th Brigade in 2015 to serve as its “information warfare” or “psychological operations” unit. The 77th Brigade would consist of “a new generation of ‘Facebook warriors’ who will wage complex and covert information and subversion campaigns,” reported the Financial Times in 2015.

When the Army created the 77th Brigade, its leaders told British Members of Parliament (MPs) that its job was to “build stability overseas,” not spy on citizens at home.

How did the UK military evade the ban on spying on UK citizens? A whistleblower from the 77th Brigade, who spoke to Big Brother Watch on condition of anonymity, said it did so by pretending that the British citizens who UK soldiers were spying upon could, perhaps, be foreigners

“To skirt the clear legal issues with a military unit monitoring domestic dissent,” the whistleblower told us, “the leading view was that unless a profile explicitly stated their real name and nationality, which is, of course, vanishingly rare, they could be a foreign agent and were fair game to flag up.”

By “flag up,” the whistleblower referred to the process by which UK government officials sent content to social media companies that they thought should be censored.

As in the United States, UK government officials insist that the flagging of social media content by officials was legal because the officials were just making suggestions, not demanding censorship.

But Facebook’s oversight board said in 2022 that government demands for censorship are hard to ignore.

And during a 2022 House of Commons debate on the UK’s Orwellian-titled “Online Safety Act,” then-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told MPs that the CDU was in “daily” contact with social media firms as part of work to remove content.

There are now many instances where social media companies said they only censored because the US government had asked them to. Just last week, a US Congressman revealed that, on July 16, 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg texted his colleaguesand noted that “the [Biden] WH put pressure on us to censor the lab leak theory…”

Now, exclusive documents obtained by Big Brother Watch and revealed for the first time here show that UK government officials labeled accurate reporting from a Guardian journalist, Jennifer Rankin, that the UK would not take part in the EU’s PPE procurement scheme as “malinformation.”

And newly obtained minutes from the UK government’s “Disinformation Board” show that senior UK officials considered embedding civil servants in social media companies. Was that also the intention of the Biden Administration’s near-identically named “Disinformation Governance Board” of the Department of Homeland Security?

What exactly happened in the UK? Why did the UK military violate its promise not to spy on the British people?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Censorship
British Army General Sir Nicholas Carter leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London on March 12, 2020, as a COBRA meeting on the government's response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak takes place. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

In its 2015 article about the 77th Brigade, the FT wrote that its soldiers would “use a range of activities to make adversaries do what they want them to do — a technique known as reflexive control. Among their weapons will be social media campaigns on Twitter and Facebook, spreading disinformation or exposing truths in war zones, ‘false flag’ incidents — which are designed to fool people into thinking they were carried out by someone else — and intelligence gathering.”

The UK officials said the unit was inspired by information warfare in Ukraine. “The undercover activities of Russia’s “little green men” in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, as well as the Kremlin’s extensive cyber and information warfare campaign in the country, have prompted worry throughout NATO’s military commands over how to combat such tactics.”

Starting in 2020, an interwoven network of “counter disinformation teams” monitored and sought to censor disfavored views. The names of the various UK government agencies tasked with censorship are confusing, anodyne, and unmemorable—perhaps by design....Image
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CONTEXT: US And UK Military Contractors Created Sweeping Plan For Global Censorship In 2018

More evidence that Covid censorship was part of a broader Five Eyes military psyop.

Civilian leaders of our nations must hold these rogue officials to account or we are no longer a democracy. Image
Military "commanders believed they didn’t need to get approval from higher authorities to develop and proceed with their plan, retired Maj.-Gen. Daniel Gosselin, who was brought in to investigate the scheme, concluded in his report.

"The propaganda plan was developed and put in place in April 2020 even though the Canadian Forces had already acknowledged that 'information operations and targeting policies and doctrines are aimed at adversaries and have a limited application in a domestic concept.'"

Government-funded pro-censorship advocates call this "jaw-boning," a grotesque lie.


A military branch "launched a controversial plan that would have allowed military public affairs officers to use propaganda to change attitudes and behaviours of Canadians as well as to collect and analyze information from public social media accounts.

"The plan would have seen staff move from traditional government methods of communicating with the public to a more aggressive strategy of using information warfare and influence tactics on Canadians. ...The Canadian Forces also spent more than $1 million to train public affairs officers on behaviour modification techniques ...

"The initiative to change military public affairs strategy was abruptly shut down in November after this newspaper revealed details about the plan."

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More from @shellenberger

May 12
Kids need computers in their classrooms, claimed @BillGates. But they didn't. In fact, the evidence is now overwhelming that they hinder learning. Many high-tech execs know this and send their own kids to schools that rely on paper and pencils. Schools need to go back to basics. Image
Big Tech Hubris And Greed Behind Digital Education Failure

It’s time to go back to paper and pencil

by Denise Champney
Bill Gates, then-Chairman of Microsoft, works with student Eli Philippe at Booker T. Washington High School's computer lab on July 9, 2001 in Miami, Florida. Gates was at the school to announce a series of grants totaling more than $1 million in computer technology and services to South Florida schools to support technology enrichment and create opportunities for teens in underserved communities. (Photo by Jeff Christensen/Getty Images)

In 2010, the US Department of Education released its ambitious National Educational Technology Plan, setting a goal to transform the future of education through technology. In many ways, this vision has now been realized. Today, students across the country use computers to learn English, Math, Science, and History. Tech companies and curriculum developers claim that this is helping them. Personal devices and digital platforms, they say, increase student engagement and have huge educational benefits.

Yet in my experience as a speech-language pathologist, digital programs are ineffective and distracting for kids.

I recently asked a 5th-grade student to show me how he uses My Path, an individualized math program through Curriculum Associates iReady Math. This student has a diagnosis of ADHD and is a struggling reader. Although he understood the math concept the program presented to him, he had trouble solving problems because of the presentation on a screen. Using a computer for math increased his ADHD tendencies, impacted his reading, and caused him to become so frustrated that he impulsively clicked and swiped. He would have had far less difficulty if he’d been given the same problems on paper.

To be sure, technology has a role in the classroom. Students must develop digital literacy and digital skills. Tech tools can also be used for enrichment and advanced instruction.

But this student is not the only child who struggles to learn from a computer. The optimistic vision of technology in education from 2010 does not match the realities of 2024. If you walk through the halls of a high school or middle school (and sadly some elementary schools), rather than the fantasy of students enthusiastically engaging in self-directed learning, you’ll instead see many students in a zombie-like stance staring at a Chromebook or laptop opened in front of them while only half listening to the teacher.

“It would be great if our education stuff worked. But that we won’t know for probably a decade,” billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said about his edtech initiatives in 2013.

In truth, over a decade later, it’s clear that this “education stuff” has not worked at all. Despite billions spent, test scores have declined since then, and mental health issues among teens have risen.

Some K-12 curriculum developers, such as McGraw Hill, claim their digital programs are supported by research. Yet they often use small sample sizes, do not include control groups, and admit that their results have major limitations. Other studies from RAND are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has invested tens of millions of dollars in personalized programs.

The best available evidence shows that excess technology is detrimental to learning and development. An increasing amount of research demonstrates that screens have a negative impact on reading comprehension.

One study published last year suggests that cognitive engagement is higher in children when reading printed books versus digital media. Another such study in 2018 found that there was higher functional connectivity in the brain when reading from print versus a decrease while reading from a screen. And yet another research review highlights, “Paper-based reading yields better comprehension outcomes than digital-based reading.”

Other studies reveal the harms of screen time on brain development. More alarmingly, new research shows changes in brain structure of children with higher screen time use. There may be a physiological and psychological effect as well. One research review found, “Excessive digital media use by children and adolescents appears as a major factor which may hamper the formation of sound psychophysiological resilience.”

A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report released in 2023 provides an in-depth evaluation of technology in education. The findings are mixed, but one that stands out is that “There is little robust evidence on digital technology’s added value in education.”

In my experience as a professional trained to work with struggling students, most children’s developing brains are not equipped to engage in the self-directed learning imagined years ago, especially online. As a result, students multitask and divert their attention to popular games such as Roblox or streaming videos off YouTube and Netflix while simultaneously completing assignments, degrading their capacity to learn.

Tech developers are skilled at designing their products to keep kids using them while maximizing profits. Tristan Harris, former Google employee and Co-Founder of the Center for Humane Technology, describes this as the race to the bottom of the brain stem. Since classrooms inundate kids with access to technology throughout the day, their precious attention is constantly being robbed.

The evidence against screen time is strong enough that executives with ties to Big Tech and edtech often send their own kids to private schools that don’t use technology.

So, how did we go from the promise of self-directed learning with unlimited information at our fingertips to what we see now, impacting an entire generation of kids? Many point to virtual learning due to Covid-19 as the time when technology took over and student achievement levels dropped. But those paying attention saw the insidious technology creeping in long before then...Image
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Read 4 tweets
May 1
@JamesOKeefeIII @CIA @NSAGov Multiple credible sources told us that the CIA asked foreign allies to spy on 26 Trump associates:

@JamesOKeefeIII @CIA @NSAGov Credible sources say the U.S. government is hiding a binder of documents because they incriminate the intelligence community for illegal spying and election interference:

@JamesOKeefeIII @CIA @NSAGov Sources say the CIA "cooked the intelligence" to hide that Vladamir Putin wanted Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as president:

Read 5 tweets
May 1
Most people think they understand the meaning of free speech but recent events show that many don’t. People have the right to say hateful things. Words on their own are not violence. The test of incitement to violence is its immediacy. Congress should not expand the definition of anti-Semitism. And freedom of speech doesn’t include the freedom to occupy buildings, block free movement, or camp illegally.Image
You’re Only For Free Speech If You Defend It For People You Hate

We should protect people physically, not emotionally

by @galexybrane & @shellenberger
A Israel supporter (left) shouts slogans against Pro-Palestinian demonstrators as they hold a protests outside Columbia University on February 2, 2024 in New York City. A pro-Palestinian demonstrator (right) shouts slogans as he marches on January 15, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress) (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/VIEWpress)

Pro-Palestine protests on college campuses around the country have inflamed debates about free speech and antisemitism. Some Republicans and Democrats claim that government oversight and censorship of hate speech is needed to address these protests. Representatives Richie Torres (D-NY) and Mike Lawler (R-NY), for example, have introduced the COLUMBIA Act, which will create “antisemitism monitors” at select universities.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who in 2019 signed a bill to guarantee freedom of speech in Texas universities, suggested that protesters should be arrested for their views. “These protesters belong in jail,” he wrote about students at the University of Texas Austin. “Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period.”

And most recently, the House Rules Committee advanced the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023, a bipartisan bill to expand the definition of antisemitism in Title VI federal anti-discrimination law. The bill refers to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which includes criticism of Israel, such as characterizing the state of Israel as a racist endeavor, or applying double standards to Israel’s conduct. Because all schools that receive federal funds must comply with Title VI, the bill would lead to greater censorship of speech on campus.

All of these efforts are violations of freedom of speech and we condemn them unreservedly. It’s once again time to remind ourselves and our fellow citizens that the test of our commitment to free speech is when we demand its protection for our enemies and for speech we hate, not for our friends and for speech we like.

To be sure, there have been hateful incidents at protests. Outside Columbia University’s gates, for instance, pro-Palestine protesters shouted “Go back to Poland!” at demonstrators holding Israeli flags. Multiple incidents of harassment have been reported on both sides. A leader of Columbia’s protest said on a livestream in January that Zionists “don’t deserve to live,” adding, “I feel very comfortable, very comfortable, calling for these people to die.”

Columbia students also pushed pro-Israel Jewish students out of their Gaza solidarity encampment on the campus lawn. In a similar incident, pro-Palestine protesters prevented a pro-Israel Jewish student at UCLA from accessing his route to class.

In these instances and others, protesters infringed on the rights of fellow tuition-paying students. University rules place limits on the time, place, and manner of protests. Constructing encampments, blocking parts of campus, and occupying buildings are clear violations of these rules and are not forms of protected speech.

Yet the conduct of some young protesters in no way requires placing greater restrictions on political speech for all students and infringing on academic freedom. Nor does it justify more government interventions to combat hate speech, expansion of counterproductive campus “safetyism,” and excessive use of police force on college campuses.

We know that readers may be displeased and disappointed that we are not unequivocally supporting one side of the Israel-Palestine debate and are instead presenting criticisms of both overreaching pro-Israel politicians and radical pro-Palestine protesters. But our position is unchanged from what it was last year: we reject the far left’s ideological extremism and its endorsement of Hamas’ actions on October 7. At the same time, we share the left’s concerns about civilian deaths in Gaza, violations of the Geneva Conventions, Israel’s political leadership, and potential escalation to a wider conflict.

We believe there is currently a great deal of confusion and hypocrisy around free speech on both sides of this debate. Some on the right who once claimed to believe in absolute free speech are now calling for a crackdown on “hate speech.” Meanwhile, many on the left, who have endorsed “cancel culture” and basically all censorship of their opponents since 2016, are now crying “Free speech!” without recognizing or admitting to how their own activities have set a terrible precedent.

Yet the line between speech and unlawful conduct is quite clear. Blocking traffic, taking over buildings, and constructing encampments are acts of force, and are not protected by the First Amendment. A central purpose of civil disobedience historically has been to provoke arrest in order to bring awareness to a cause, and students should know that arrest is a possible outcome of civil disobedience. While we believe that universities must aim to protect the right to protest as much as possible, encampments can disrupt learning and free movement around campus, and it is at universities’ discretion to suspend and expel students or call police to clear encampments.

The line between political speech and harassment or incitement to violence is also almost always clear...Image
Please subscribe now to support our defense of freedom of speech for all, and to read the rest of the article!

Read 5 tweets
Apr 24
O Procurador-Geral do Brasil acaba de me acusar de um "provável" crime por publicar "Twitter Files - Brasil". É uma mentira monstruosa. Presidente @LulaOficial está me perseguindo porque expus a censura ilegal do governo. Vou lutar e vencer.

O governo do @LulaOficial está espalhando desinformação e teorias conspiratórias ridículas e fáceis de desmascarar, como eu fiz aqui:

Este documento é uma vergonha nacional.

Este documento revela Lula como igual a Castro.Image
Read 5 tweets
Apr 24
Brazil's Attorney General just accused me of a "probable" crime for publishing "Twitter Files - Brazil." It's a monstrous lie. President @LulaOficial is persecuting me because I exposed the government's illegal censorship. I will fight back, and win.

The @LulaOficial is spreading disinformation and ridiculous conspiracy theories that are easy to debunk, as I did here.

This document is a national embarrassment.

This document exposes Lula as Castro's equal.Image
Read 5 tweets
Apr 20
Brazilian Judge Pushes Nationalist Conspiracy Theory To Weaponize Federal Police Against Defenders Of Free Speech

Brazil’s Federal Police discuss me in new report commissioned by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes

Yesterday, a Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, who is also the President of the Superior Electoral Commission, lashed out angrily at X owner Elon Musk. At an event heavily promoted by Globo News, Alexandre de Moraes claimed that Musk is part of a vast extremist conspiracy to undermine Brazil’s sovereignty and democracy. He claimed that Musk was an “irresponsible mercantilist” motivated solely by profits who had “united” with “extremist Brazilian politicians.”

But there is no evidence of any conspiracy. Musk did not know I would publish the Twitter Files Brazil. Nor did the Brazilian politicians who reacted to them. And many of the politicians and journalists who de Moraes is demonizing as “extremist” are advocates of freedom of speech, including the right to criticize de Moraes.

It’s true that some of the people who de Moraes is censoring have urged a military intervention and have made unsubstantiated claims about elections and Covid. I do not agree with many of the statements made by the people whom de Moraes has censored.

But freedom of speech means nothing if it does not protect people and ideas you disagree with. If we aren’t going to allow people to criticize democracy, elections, and vaccines, how will we ever know if they are bad? If people are spreading false information about democracy, elections, and vaccines, the best way to deal with the false information is with accurate information, not censorship.

The real extremist spreading disinformation here is de Moraes. If Musk were solely motivated by money, then he would not have stood up to de Moraes, which resulted in the Brazilian government halting all advertising on X, the resignation of X’s top lawyer in Brazil, who feared for his safety, and may result in de Moraes shutting down X in Brazil.

He is not simply demanding that social media platforms censor specific content by controversial journalists and politicians. He is demanding that all social media platforms ban them for life. He often does so through secret hearings without the right of appeal.

In fact, it’s all much worse than that. You can’t be a politician or journalist if you can’t communicate on social media. And so de Moraes is not just violating the Brazilian constitution’s protections of free speech, he is also attacking the freedom of the press, destroying careers, and interfering in elections.

De Moraes has acted unilaterally to invent entirely new laws. He is thus interfering and taking over the role of Congress and of the president. That means he is behaving like a dictator.

And now de Moraes has weaponized the Federal Police, including against me, for publishing the Twitter Files in Brazil. The Federal Police delivered two reports to de Moraes, one on April 18 and the other on April 19. The reports consist of a gigantic conspiracy theory, suggesting connections and relationships that simply do not exist.

The reports single me out and suggest it is somehow suspicious that I only have paid for one subscription on X, which is to Elon Musk. But there is nothing suspicious about this. I am paying Musk, not the other way around. And, as the Police report notes, Musk takes a percentage of the revenue of the people who subscribe to my content on X.

And the reports claim that people who de Moraes had demanded be censored had gained limited access to communicate on X, in particular through X’s Spaces, which allows for live conversation.

In other words, de Moraes is totally obsessed with silencing his enemies. It’s not enough for X to have blocked profiles. He also doesn’t want them to be able to use their voice.

It helps that the Brazilian government directly pays the Brazilian news media. The new Lula government increased government funding by 60% for Globo alone. Globo is the biggest media in Brazil. It has been demanding more censorship and running propaganda for de Moraes.

De Moraes is a brutish authoritarian. His censorship is as bad as the censorship imposed by Brazil’s military dictators. He is seeking, as a judge, to eliminate particularly politicians and journalists from public life.

This is hardly the first time de Moraes has weaponized the Federal Police. And in calling Elon Musk a foreign mercantilist, de Moraes is using the exact same kind of nationalist rhetoric that he has attacked his enemies for using.

Why does Moraes have so much power? In Brazil, people told me it was because de Moraes controls so many court cases involving rich and powerful people, including politicians and other judges.

The solution is for Brazil’s Congress to open an investigation, known as a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI). A CPI can evaluate judicial abuses of power, and that is obviously what is happening here. Under a CPI, Brazil’s Congress could gain access to communications between police and judges or anyone else.

A CPI could also hear from the victims of censorship. It could bring light to thousands of cases under secrecy. And it could discover how social media platforms were compelled to obey or collaborate with the regime.

Musk has taken extraordinary and historic actions to protect free speech. So, too has the US Congress. Now it’s time for Brazil’s Congress to act against the anti-democratic extremism of de Moraes. It must do so before the extremist de Moraes starts arresting his political enemies and shuts down X, and thus free speech, in Brazil.
Aqui está a mesma coisa em português para todos os brasileiros que amam a liberdade e odeiam a tirania

Here are the pages from the creepy Federal Police report, which pushes a bonkers conspiracy theory... My favorite part is the screenshot of my profile page, which includes the banner, "Defund the Thought Police." Oh the irony! 😂Image
Read 4 tweets

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