Friday, June 16, 2023

PayPal Billionaire Pierre Omidyar Is Very Creepy

We've looked at Omidyar a few times including once guided by the author of the piece below.

From Lee Fang's substack, June 8:

Billionaire Biden Donor Bankrolled 2020 Election Social Media Censorship Effort
Newly disclosed document confirms billionaire Pierre Omidyar financed the public-private partnership to censor election-related Twitter and Facebook posts. 

The Department of Homeland Security’s controversial social media censorship effort during the 2020 election was propped up by a partisan billionaire.

Newly obtained documents, acquired through a public records request, confirm that Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay, financed a specialized portal maintained by the Center for Internet Security (CIS). This portal was used to facilitate the swift removal of predominantly conservative messages on Twitter and Facebook during the previous presidential election.

Omidyar, previously identified as one of the largest donors to campaign groups supporting Joe Biden's presidential bid, donated $45 million to the "Sixteen Thirty Fund" in 2020. This dark money group mobilized Democratic voters and financed pro-Biden Super PACs. However, Omidyar's direct involvement in the DHS partnership, which is now facing increased scrutiny, remained undisclosed until now.

The funding provided by Omidyar to CIS was used to establish a Misinformation Reporting Portal (MiRP). A team from CIS continuously monitored this portal 24/7 from September 28 to November 6, 2020, as revealed in a post-election report, “Election Infrastructure Misinformation Reporting.” The Democracy Fund, Omidyar's foundation, supported the creation of the MiRP through a direct grant, according to the report.

The misinformation reporting portal served to rapidly identify and remove instances of alleged misinformation. CIS's report acknowledged that the flagged content ranged from “intentional misinformation to honest mistakes.” Of the content reported by CIS, 61% “resulted in positive action,” which the group defined as content takedowns or labeling.

This MiRP system was used by a coalition of liberal-leaning research groups and overseen by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), a sub-agency of the DHS that has led the government's push to censor social media. Despite government backing for the project, the effort was partisan – the Democratic National Committee was part of the consortium, but not the Republican National Committee, indicating a partisan bias.

"In addition to sharing all reports with CISA, some reports were shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the CIS report noted. The effort focused on “election narratives” deemed conspiratorial or inaccurate.

Tax records appear to confirm the Omidyar funding. The Democracy Fund’s 990 disclosure shows that it donated $130,000 to CIS in 2020. The grant, however, is listed as support for “election security best practices,” a vague description that belied the true function of the MiRP portal.

CIS did not respond to a request for comment. The Omidyar Network discussed this inquiry with me but stopped responding before publication.

Evidence of this MiRP system first emerged in emails I obtained from a visit to Twitter's San Francisco headquarters in December. In an email thread dated October 1, 2020, Twitter attorney Stacia Cardille mentioned receiving outreach from DHS, forwarding a censorship demand from CISA, CIS official Aaron Wilson, and a representative from the Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition monitoring misinformation....


The public-private schtick is taking the line falsely attributed to Il Duce to a whole new level:

     "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. "

    —B. Mussolini via BrainyQuote 

And yes, I know the distinction between Fascism and vertical syndicalist corporatism based on guilds. I'm just using a shorthand, readily understandable usage....
(Phrases such as "...the distinction between Fascism and vertical syndicalist corporatism based on guilds" make me the hit of any party.)
Previously on Mr. Omidyar: 

I didn't know of the writer so I went to the all-knowing one. From the author's Wikipedia entry:

Lee Hu Fang is an American journalist. He was previously an investigative reporter at The Intercept, a contributing writer at The Nation, and a writer at progressive outlet the Republic Report. He began his career as an investigative blogger for ThinkProgress...
Mr. Fang's stint at the Intercept is interesting in that Omidyar along with Glenn Greenwald founded The Intercept to much hoopla. Some links in March 7's "Mystery Solved: Left-Wing Billionaire Pierre Omidyar Bankrolls Shadowy Anti-Musk Group" (EBAY; TSLA):
I don't know if I'd label Omidyar left-wing so much as power-mad/control freak.
Before, during and after Ukraine's 2014 Maidan coup he was funding neo-Nazis in Mariupol and their Galician base, Lviv.

From Elliott Management-backed (Paul Singer) Washington Free Beacon, February 21: 

Omidyar money behind organizations pushing corporate boycott of Twitter

The left-wing billionaire and media donor Pierre Omidyar is behind the dark-money group that has kept its donors secret for nearly a year and is leading a corporate boycott campaign against Twitter owner Elon Musk.

Omidyar, the eBay founder and financial backer of the Intercept and ProPublica, donated $509,500 to Accountable Tech in 2021 and 2022, according to a recently updated list of grants disclosed by Omidyar's foundation. Omidyar also gave $2 million to at least six other organizations that targeted Musk, criticizing him in letters and op-eds as "uniquely ill-suited for the job of running a social media platform" and warning that he would turn Twitter into a "free-for-all of hate and harassment."

The news reveals one of the primary forces behind the anti-Musk campaign. Accountable Tech has been dodging questions about its donors for months. Over the past year, Accountable Tech and other groups bankrolled by Omidyar organized campaigns to pressure corporations to boycott Twitter and issued statements and op-eds denouncing Musk and calling for government investigations into the billionaire. "I wonder who funds them," wrote Musk in May, in response to a Washington Free Beacon report about the organization's secretiveness.

A spokeswoman for the Omidyar Network confirmed the funding but told the Free Beacon that the foundation didn't order the Twitter boycott campaign. "We routinely support organizations that share our vision for a responsible technology system, but do not direct their day-to-day activities," said spokeswoman Beth Kanter....

November 2020 Glenn Greenwald's Co-Founder of "The Intercept", eBay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar Co-funded Ukraine Revolution Groups With US Government

January 2017 "My next book won’t be the non-fiction Silicon Valley exposé we desperately need (but here’s what it will be)"

Similarly, when Mark Ames showed me a document proving that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar had funded opposition groups in Ukraine right before the Maidan revolution, I assumed Omidyar – the Pez dispenser guy! – must have been duped by his friends in the State Department. Tech founders simply didn’t go around instigating military coups.

Perhaps I saw the first glimmer of the real story when I dug out the White House visitor logs and saw how many times Omidyar’s name appeared, and who he met. Or when I noticed the growing line of tech billionaires leading to the Oval Office, the Kremlin and various Saudi royal palaces....

November 2014  At the Intersection of Money and Power: "Pierre Omidyar’s man in India is named to Modi’s cabinet" (EBAY; AMZN; WMT)

And a bunch of links regarding The Intercept

October 2013 Adventure Capital: Ebay Founder Omidyar And NSA Nightmare Glenn Greenwald Team Up in a $250 Million Journalism Venture
October 2013 Columbia Journalism Review: The extraordinary promise of the new Greenwald-Omidyar venture
August 2014 Possible Problems in the New New Journalism: "Growing pains at the Omidyar/Greenwald venture"
October 2014 "Matt Taibbi Disappears From Omidyar’s First Look Media"

And many more.