2024 Election

WA Secretary Of State Weaponizes AI To Conduct Surveillance Of Journalists, Citizens


Washington’s Secretary of State has weaponized artificial intelligence (AI) to conduct mass surveillance ahead of the US 2024 Presidential Election.

The state’s AI is targeting journalists, conservative activists, and voters for “narratives” the state finds problematic regarding election security and integrity following factual reporting and social media posts, according to information obtained via a public disclosure request (PDR).

Steve Hobbs, the WA Secretary of State, entered into a contract with UK Artificial Intelligence company, LogicallyAI, a controversial company that monitors social media accounts to “identify harmful online narratives about the election process and online threats to election officials and the election process.”

LogicallyAI was used by the British government to censor its citizens on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic on claims of spreading misinformation about the virus.

Washington State has now weaponized LogicallyAI to target its citizens and journalists through mass surveillance. Officials have warned that LogicallyAI has the power to shape the 2024 US Presidential Election and now those concerns are coming to fruition. Critics also claim that the state contract is unconstitutional because it violates a person’s right to freedom of speech.

LogicallyAI sends “threat” and “narrative” alerts to the state each month. The service, which costs taxpayers more than $14,000 per month, acts as a censorship bot that targets social media users who have either questioned or reported on election integrity. It also flags accounts it deems have threatened election officials. The social media accounts of said individuals are then given to Hobbs’ office.

Journalists and individuals have been listed as “narrative” alerts if they report on illegal immigrants voting, question the integrity of mail-in ballots and voting machines, advocate for voter ID, mention potential fraudulent election activity, discuss dead people receiving ballots and their votes being counted, advocate for election transparency, and more.

The PDR request revealed that journalists Ari Hoffman and Katie Daviscourt of The Post Millennial were tagged in these alerts after reporting factual stories about Washington’s election process such as illegal immigrants who were caught voting and envelopes with white powder sent to election locations. Seattle-based journalist Jonathan Choe, political commentator Brandi Kruse, radio show host Jason Rantz, Republican congressional and state candidates, and conservative voters have also been tagged, the PDR request revealed.

 

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According to the contract, LogicallyAI provides “overarching services” to the Office of the Secretary of State. This includes narrative alerts, threat alerts, bi-weekly narrative and threat trend reports, final narrative and threat trend reports, and narrative and threat briefings.

HOW IT WORKS

LogicallyAI conducts mass social media surveillance. If an individual posts a discussion the AI deems related to election integrity, the Secretary of State receives an alert that describes why the narrative or threat is harmful.

For example, LogicallyAI issued an alert to the state after individuals discussed receiving multiple ballots, ballots being sent out to deceased individuals, and receiving ballots after moving to a different city or out of the state.

LogicallyAI tagged this narrative because it could “motivate individuals to call on officials to ban mail-in ballots and advocate for in-person voting only.”

It also claims that it could “degrade confidence in Washington state’s mail-in-ballot system among those who believe that election officials mail ballots to deceased people or outdated voter addresses.”

 

LogicallyAI then attaches social media posts to the alert.

 

 

Jim Walsh, state representative and chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, said in a statement to The Post Millennial that the “unconstitutional totalitarian contract” is troubling as it undermines a citizen’s right to freedom of speech.

“The WA Secretary of State’s shady, no-bid contract with the UK-based firm LogicallyAI should trouble every thinking person in the state. The main problem is that it undermines citizens’ free speech rights in a wannabe totalitarian way. Snooping and lodging complaints about factual but inconvenient social media posts? Bad stuff. Unconstitutional stuff,” said Walsh.

“Beyond that, the way that the WA Secretary of State went about doing this was shady. Fronting the no-bid contract through a local community college so that it would be hard to find? Denying reasonable requests to cancel the contract and redo it with a domestic firm? Claiming no retaliation has been taken, while LogicallyAI brags about shadow-banning people on Facebook, Twitter, and the rest? Bad, bad, bad,” he added.

Walsh was also tagged after being surveilled by LogicallyAI.

Additionally, Hobbs’ office is using the software system to target journalists and started redacting the names after receiving the first few monthly reports, the PDR request shows.

TPM’s Ari Hoffman and Katie Daviscourt’s factual report about election offices receiving envelopes laced with fentanyl during the state’s mid-term election last year was featured as a narrative alert. The envelopes included a threatening letter that had been emblazoned with Antifa symbols.

Hoffman was also labeled as a threat for sharing a factual report about illegal immigrants voting in Washington state’s elections.

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Journalist Jonathan Choe of the Discovery Institute, and political commentator Brandi Kruse, who is the host of the popular podcast “Undivided,” were also tagged for providing evidence-based reporting on a coordinated effort between state Democrat Party leaders and local Democrat activists to disrupt lawful signature-gathering efforts.

 

In February, investigative journalist Lee Fang testified before Congress about the dangers LogicallyAI poses to US elections.

WA Secretary of State Steve Hobbs’ office said in a statement to The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, “Logically AI, which generated that message, notifies the Secretary of State’s office of emerging narratives online concerning electoral integrity so that we can be aware of concerns that are being raised in active public discourse,” said Derrick Nunnally, Deputy Director of External Affairs.

“In their reports to us, they provide example posts of an emerging narrative. A narrative can be true or untrue, and just because a post is included as an example of an emerging narrative in a report does not mean that a person is “deemed a threat to election integrity,” he continued. “I know there’s a lot of information — accurate and otherwise — about this company’s service, but I hope this clarifies the situation raised in your first question.”

The office told Hoffman in a follow-up inquiry, “Since June 2023, Logically AI has provided a service for the Office of the Secretary of State (OSOS) to search public social media posts on multiple Internet platforms and provide reports of discussions about Washington’s elections, as well as identifying direct threats against elections offices or staff. The criteria for these searches was specified by OSOS staff and is nonpartisan.”

“This service has brought more than 60 discussions to the attention of OSOS staff, who have used this information to formulate the office’s social media posts and other messaging. Neither Logically AI nor the Office of Secretary of State has used these reports to seek censorship, categorize specific social media users, or request action against any social media user.”

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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

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