While carrying out her duties as the Arizona secretary of state, governor-elect Katie Hobbs was found to have a primary role in the heavy censorship of social media speech.
As explained via a series of documents handed over to the court as part of discovery within the ongoing case Missouri v. Biden, Hobbs’ Office attempted to speak with a nonprofit which is known to act as a mediator between all government-run entities and the various social media companies, the Center for Internet Security (CIS), in order to initiate a “review” of some Twitter posts that made the claim that the voter registration system for Arizona was fully owned and operated by a group of foreign actors.
“This is an attempt to further undermine confidence in the election institution in Arizona,” explained Hobbs’ Office.
In the wake of a short 30-minute wait, Twitter explained to CIS that it would seek to “escalate” its issues with what was going on in the posts. Roughly seven hours later, Twitter explained to CIS that it had chosen to censor and take down the corresponding posts. The entire back and forth happened on the 7th of January last year — a single day after the events of the Capitol riots.
“Both Tweets have been removed from service,” explained Twitter.
BREAKING: Email leaks reveal Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs was in regular communication with Twitter telling them who to censor pic.twitter.com/j7OsWpxoso
— George (@BehizyTweets) December 4, 2022
Over the course of the next few months, court filings unveiled that Hobbs was focused on making public her view regarding the danger and that both disinformation and misinformation can cause.
“Lies, conspiracy theories, and disinformation pose a real threat to our democracy,” stated Hobbs in a social media post back in April.
Lies, conspiracy theories, and disinformation pose a real threat to our democracy.
Until the legislature is willing to commit to funding robust public education efforts around our elections, open and transparent partnerships like this will continue to be vital. https://t.co/GBs33qlGQW
— Governor Katie Hobbs (@GovernorHobbs) April 7, 2021
Hobbs also took time to speak about the steps she has taken to censor and remove any speech that she has labeled misinformation or disinformation as she carried out her campaign last September.
“I’ve fought against misinformation and even death threats to defend Arizona’s elections,” stated Hobbs. “I’ll always fight the spread of misinformation and never back down from telling the truth. We can’t let the conspiracy theories win.”
While some elected officials in our state continue to promote falsehoods about the last election, I’ll always fight the spread of misinformation and never back down from telling the truth.
We can’t let the conspiracy theorists win. We need a change in leadership in Arizona.
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) September 9, 2021
I’ve fought against misinformation and even death threats to defend Arizona's elections.
Now I’m running for Governor, and one of my opponents is talking to Steve Bannon about decertifying the 2020 results.
RT to help us fight back & defend democracy.https://t.co/ThOUr6W3BI
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) September 13, 2021
In the wake of the weekend discovery of Hobbs’ heavy-handed intervention into social media speech going viral, Hobbs and her team attempted to reach out to mainstream media outlets to counter the controversy.
As the assistant secretary of state and incoming chief of staff for Hobbs, Allie Bones put out a statement that was distributed across a number of outlets in which she asserted that it was not just the secretary of state’s job to inform voters but to censor and discard what they label as not the truth. Bones chose to dismiss all corresponding concerns regarding the government’s stranglehold over online speech, claiming that the CIS arrangement was how it should be.
“One of the ways we [make sure that voters are informed] is by working to counter disinformation online that can confuse voters,” concluded Bones.