Arizona’s Governor-Elect, Katie Hobbs, asked for speech censorship on social media while serving as the secretary of state. Her actions were discovered in documents that were submitted in the case of Missouri v. Biden. The records show that Hobbs’ office communicated with the Center for Internet Security (CIS) to request a “review” of Twitter posts that claimed the Arizona voter registration system was owned and operated by foreign entities. CIS is a nonprofit mediator between the government and social media.
On January 7, 2021, the day after the Capitol riots, Hobbs’ office indicated that the Twitter posts undermined voter confidence in Arizona’s elections. Twitter responded quickly to the CIS request with an escalation notice. Within 7 hours, the ‘offending posts’ were removed.
In the months following the documented communications, Hobbs focused on her campaign and publicized her misinformation agenda and opinions on the danger of disinformation. “Lies, conspiracy theories, and disinformation pose a real threat to our democracy,” Hobbs wrote on Twitter last April. On her campaign trail a few months later, she wrote that she’d fought hard to defend Arizona’s elections against conspiracy theories.
+ a few other violations of State Law.
Read Full Letter⤵️ pic.twitter.com/gwgYnu0nrt
— Republican Party of Arizona (@AZGOP) December 6, 2022
Arizona residents are perturbed by the discovery of Hobbs’ social media speech suppression after the documents went viral this weekend. Allie Bones, the governor-elect’s incoming chief of staff, shared a statement with various news outlets to counter the controversy. Bones mentioned it was the secretary of state’s job to eliminate messages they deem untrue. Further, Hobbs’ office insisted that communication with CIS to control online speech is normal.
After the records were revealed, some GOP leaders called for an investigation into Hobbs for speech suppression. But Bones insists the leaders are taking the documents out of context. “This email exchange is from January 2021, as shown in the screenshot. Not only was it taken entirely out of context, but it also has nothing to do with this year’s midterm election,” said Bones.
Hobbs’ office insisted that the outrage and questions surrounding the files come from conspiracy theorists trying to create confusion for voters. Bones told another news outlet that it shouldn’t be considered silencing opinion to remove verifiably false information.
But isn’t an opinion either true or false most of the time? Isn’t it a right for American free speech to express ideas, whether verifiably true or false?