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Press Censorship
Top Censored Press Stories of 2023

Note: To find the top media censorship stories of any year from 2003 to present, click here.

Dear WantToKnow.info friends,

Our readers may have noticed that we started incorporating an Independent News section in our weekly news summary newsletters that go out on Tuesday. When a small handful of powerful corporations control 90 percent of what we see, hear, and read, the narratives that dominate the mainstream airwaves tend to be in service of commercial, elite interests. Independent media platforms, on the other hand, aren’t owned or influenced by corporate interests and often provide ample opportunities to access a diverse spectrum of perspectives and voices.

Each year, Project Censored specializes in covering top stories from independent media which were subjected to press censorship, either by being ignored or downplayed by corporate media. Project Censored is a research team composed of more than 300 university faculty, students, and community experts who annually review many hundreds of news story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance.

The top 25 stories selected are submitted to a distinguished panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. The results are published each year in an excellent book available for purchase at their website, amazon.com, and most major book stores.

A summary of the top 25 media censorship stories of 2023 is provided below. Each summary has a link for those who want to read the entire article.

Note: To find all of these stories and their sources on the Project Censored website, click here. The stories below cover a 12-month period spanning 2022 and 2023.


Top 25 Stories of 2023 Subjected to Press Censorship

1. “Forever Chemicals” in Rainwater a Global Threat to Human Health (For full story, click here)

Environmental scientists have found hazardous levels of manufactured chemicals in rainwater, leading to the dramatic conclusion that rainwater is “no longer safe to drink anywhere on Earth,” according to an August 2022 report from Insider. A global study of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) ... concluded that “in many areas inhabited by humans,” PFAS contamination levels in rainwater, surface water, and soil “often greatly exceed” the strictest international guidelines for acceptable levels of perfluoroalkyl acids. The PFAS the researchers examined are known informally as “forever chemicals” because they take a long time to break down. Prior research has linked these chemicals to prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer and additional health risks, including developmental delays in children, decreased fertility in women and men, reduced vaccine efficacy, and high cholesterol. In June 2023, three US-based chemical companies—DuPont, and two spin-off companies, Chemours and Corteva—reached a $1.18 billion deal to resolve complaints of polluting drinking water systems with potentially harmful “forever chemicals.”

Source: Morgan McFall-Johnsen, “Rainwater Is No Longer Safe to Drink Anywhere on Earth Due to ‘Forever Chemicals’ Linked to Cancer, Study Suggests,” Insider, August 13, 2022.


2. Hiring of Former CIA Employees and Ex-Israeli Agents “Blurs Line” Between Big Tech and Big Brother (For full story, click here)

Former employees of US and Israeli intelligence agencies now hold senior positions at Google, Meta, Microsoft, and other tech giants, where these individuals influence policy and control programs that regulate internet users’ access to information. Google has hired former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees to fill sensitive positions, affording them significant influence over the operation of the world’s most used search engine and other Google products that encompass online communication, commerce, and information gathering. Elizabeth Murray, a retired intelligence agent who worked as a CIA analyst, noted that the close relationship between the CIA and Google “threatens individual rights to privacy, free speech, freedom of expression.” Hundreds of former agents of Unit 8200, an Israeli intelligence organization, comparable to the United States National Security Agency (NSA), hold influential positions at the world’s biggest tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon.

Sources: Alan MacLeod, “National Security Search Engine: Google’s Ranks Are Filled With CIA Agents,” MintPress News, July 25, 2022.
Alan MacLeod, “Revealed: The Former Israeli Spies Working In Top Jobs at Google, Facebook and Microsoft,” MintPress News, October 31, 2022.


3. Toxic Chemicals Continue to Go Unregulated in the United States (For full story, click here)

The United States consistently fails to ban and regulate harmful chemicals. Although the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gave the EPA regulatory authority to ban or restrict the use of chemicals that pose serious health risks, the chemical industry’s involvement in drafting the bill was so extensive that one EPA administrator joked that the law “should have been named after the DuPont executive who went over the text line by line,” ProPublica reported. The law required the EPA “to always choose regulations that were the ‘least burdensome’ to companies. Over sixty thousand chemicals remained on the market for years without being vetted for health risks. Some toxins that were originally exempted from regulation include asbestos and trichloroethylene (TCE). Each chemical must undergo a lengthy assessment protocol, but the underfunded EPA cannot keep pace, especially in the face of industry resistance. “The whole regulatory process is designed to be slow and to be slowed down by those opposed to regulation,” said Joel Tickner, a leading expert on chemical policy.

Source: Neil Bedi, Sharon Lerner, and Kathleen McGrory, “Why the U.S. Is Losing the Fight to Ban Toxic Chemicals,” ProPublica, December 14, 2022.


4. Stalkerware Could Be Used to Incriminate People Violating Abortion Bans (For full story, click here)

Stalkerware—surveillance apps that secretly record and upload cellphone activities—could become a significant legal threat to people seeking abortions, according to a pair of articles published in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion. University of Virginia law professor Danielle Keats Citron ... explained that cyberstalking software provides users with “real-time access to everything that we do and say with our phones. To do this, they only need our phones (and passwords) for a few minutes. Once installed, cyberstalking apps silently record and upload phones’ activities to their servers. They enable privacy invaders to see our photos, videos, texts, calls, voice mails, searches, social media activities, locations—nothing is out of reach. From anywhere, individuals can activate a phone’s mic to listen to conversations within 15 feet of the phone.” Stalkerware is technically illegal to sell for the purpose of monitoring adults but nonetheless is readily available.

Sources: Rae Hodge, “With Roe v. Wade Overturned, Your Abortion Searches Could Be Used to Prosecute You,” CNET, June 26, 2022.
Danielle Keats Citron, “Abortion Bans Are Going to Make Stalkerware Even More Dangerous,” Slate, July 5, 2022.


5. Certified Rainforest Carbon Offsets Mostly “Worthless” (For full story, click here)

About 90 percent of rainforest carbon offsets certified by Verra, the world’s largest offset certifier, do not reflect real reductions in emissions. Where Verra claimed to have certified 94.9 million credits—each of which is supposed to represent a one-metric ton reduction of carbon emissions—the actual benefits of the projects validated by Verra amounted to a much more modest 5.5 million credits. Several internationally renowned corporations—including Disney, Shell, Gucci, Salesforce, Netflix, and United Airlines, among others—have purchased Verra rainforest carbon credits. Because Verra sets the standards for offset programs and profits from them, it has an incentive to overstate the climate benefits of carbon offsets. A reforestation project in the Republic of the Congo, promoted by the French energy company TotalEnergies, displaced more than four hundred local farmers, some of whom told reporters they received the equivalent of as little as one dollar per hectare in compensation, or nothing at all in some cases, for their land, undermining their livelihoods and local food security in the name of fighting climate change.

Sources: Patrick Greenfield, “Revealed: More than 90% Of Rainforest Carbon Offsets by Biggest Certifier Are Worthless, Analysis Shows,” The Guardian, January 18, 2023.
The Carbon Con,” SourceMaterial, January 18, 2023.
Tin Fischer and Hannah Knuth, “Disguised Green” (“Grün Getarnt”), Die Zeit, January 18, 2023, updated May 1, 2023.
Sharon Zhang, “Report: 94 Percent of Big Provider’s Rainforest Carbon Offsets Don’t Cut Carbon,” Truthout, January 18, 2023.


6. Unions Won More Than 70 Percent of Their Elections in 2022, and Their Victories Are Being Driven by Workers of Color (For full story, click here)

Unions won more than 70 percent of their certification elections in 2022. In fiscal year 2022, 2,510 petitions for union representation were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) between October 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022. This figure is up 53 percent from FY 2021 when 1,638 petitions were filed. One business that saw large-scale union activity was Starbucks, with workers holding union elections at 354 stores nationwide, more than a quarter of all US union elections held in 2022. Workers at Starbucks prevailed in four out of every five elections. Workers at Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, and Apple unionized for the first time, while workers at Microsoft and Wells Fargo also had wins. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded a substantial rise of two hundred thousand unionized workers in the United States from 2021 to 2022, most of whom are workers of color. According to BLS, unionized workers of color increased by 231,000 last year, while White unionized workers decreased by thirty-one thousand.

Sources: Mike Elk, “Workers of Color Accounted for 100% of Union Growth in 2022,” Payday Report, March 28, 2023.
Marick Masters, “Worker Strikes and Union Elections Surged in 2022–Could It Mark a Turning Point for Organized Labor?” The Conversation, January 5, 2023.
Prem Thakker, “Workers of Color Made Up 100% of Union Growth in 2022,” New Republic, March 24, 2023.
Andrea Hsu and Alina Selyukh, “Union Wins Made Big News This Year. Here Are 5 Reasons Why It’s Not the Full Story,” NPR, December 27, 2022.


7. Fossil Fuel Investors Sue Governments to Block Climate Regulations (For full story, click here)

Big oil companies and their investors are suing governments to thwart climate change policies. These fossil fuel stakeholders claim that laws designed to address climate change are undermining their profits—and, therefore, that they must be compensated for any resulting financial losses. In 2017, France’s environmental minister at the time, Nicolas Hulot, drafted a law to end fossil fuel extraction by 2040. In response, the Canadian oil company [Vermilion] threatened to use an “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) to sue the French government, thus taking advantage of a provision that allows investors to sue governments for treaty violations. Due to the ISDS, Hulot’s climate change bill was diluted, enabling oil and gas companies to continue extraction after the originally approved 2040 deadline. One of the most concerning aspects of the ISDS is that it offers foreign companies a loophole allowing them to avoid local courts––which frequently operate under stricter regulations. Instead, suits brought by companies against countries in which they have investments are decided by international arbitration tribunals.

Sources: Rishika Pardikar, “Big Oil Is Suing Countries to Block Climate Action,” The Lever, June 8, 2022.
Lois Parshley, “The Secretive Legal Weapon That Fossil Fuel Interests Use Against Climate-Conscious Countries,” Grist, January 17, 2023.
Kyla Tienhaara et al., “Investor-State Disputes Threaten the Global Green Energy Transition,” Science 376, no. 6594 (May 5, 2022): 701-03.


8. Proximity to Oil and Gas Extraction Sites Linked to Maternal Health Risks and Childhood Leukemia (For full story, click here)

Living near oil and gas extraction sites is hazardous to human health, especially for pregnant mothers and children. Researchers from Oregon State University ... found that pregnant women living within one kilometer (~0.6 miles) of a drilling site had a 5 percent greater likelihood of gestational hypertension and a 26 percent higher risk of eclampsia, a rare but serious condition where high blood pressure results in seizures during pregnancy, than pregnant mothers living further from drilling sites. A Yale University study ... found that children who resided in areas bordering fracking sites were two to three times more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer. The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, involved 405 children aged 2–7 diagnosed with ALL in Pennsylvania between 2009–2017, who were compared with an additional 2,080 children, matched on birth year, who did not have leukemia. The researchers found that children residing less than two kilometers (approximately 1.2 miles) from a fracking site were much more likely to develop leukemia.

Sources: Nick Cunningham, “Living Close to Oil and Gas Drilling Linked to Higher Risk of Pregnancy Complications, New Study Finds,” DeSmog, January 11, 2022.
Nick Cunningham, “Children Living Close to Fracking Sites Have Two to Three Times Higher Risk of Leukemia,” DeSmog, August 17, 2022.
Tom Perkins, “Children Born Near Fracking Wells More at Risk for Leukemia—Study,” The Guardian, August 17, 2022.


9. Deadly Decade for Environmental Activists (For full story, click here)

Between 2012 and 2021, at least 1,733 environmental activists were killed—amounting, on average, to nearly one killing every two days across ten years. The killing of environmental activists has been concentrated in the Global South, with 68 percent occurring in Latin America. Three-hundred-forty-two killings occurred in Brazil, 322 in Colombia, 154 in Mexico, 177 in Honduras, and eighty in Guatemala. Outside Latin America, the Philippines accounted for 270 killings and India accounted for seventy-nine. 39 percent of those killed were from Indigenous communities, despite that group constituting only 5 percent of the global population. In Brazil, about a third of those killed were Indigenous or Afro-descendants, and in the Philippines, that number was about 40 percent. Although most of these killings cannot be traced to a specific cause, the Independent explained that a “big proportion of these attacks” are associated with opposition to “mining and infrastructure, including large-scale agribusiness and hydroelectric dams.”

Sources: Patrick Greenfield, “More Than 1,700 Environmental Activists Murdered in the Past Decade— Report,” The Guardian, September 28, 2022.
Stuti Mishra, “Over 1,700 Environmental Activists Murdered in 10 Years, Investigation Finds,” Independent, September 29, 2022.
Matt McGrath, “Over 1,700 Environment Activists Killed in Decade— Report,” BBC, September 29, 2022.
Joseph Lee, “Every Two Days, a Land Defender Is Killed. Most Are Indigenous,” Grist, September 30, 2022.
Matt Alderton, “NGO Reports ‘Deadly Decade’ for Environmental Defenders,” TreeHugger, October 12, 2022.


10. Corporate Profits Hit Record High as Top 0.1% Earnings and Wall Street Bonuses Skyrocket (For full story, click here)

Non-financial corporate profits in the second quarter of 2022 hit two trillion dollars, an increase of 8.1 percent from the same period in 2021 and their highest level since 1950. The earnings of the wealthiest 0.1 percent in the United States grew by 465 percent between 1979 and 2021 while the income of the bottom 90 percent grew less than 29 percent. One reason profits are booming is that companies have been using inflation as cover to raise prices and gouge consumers. In late 2022, inflation in the United States was the highest it had been in forty years. According to Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, “Astronomical corporate profits confirm what corporate executives have been telling us on earning calls over and over again: They’re making a lot of money by charging people more, and they don’t plan on bringing prices down anytime soon.” The average bonus for Wall Street employees rose an astounding 1,743 percent between 1985 and 2021. In 2021 alone, Wall Street bonuses grew 20 percent, far outpacing inflation at 7 percent, and nominal private sector earnings at 4.2 percent.

Sources: Jake Johnson, “‘All of Us Are Paying the Price’ as Corporate Profits Surge to Record-High $2 Trillion,” Common Dreams, August 26, 2022; republished as “Corporate Profits Surge to an All-Time High of $2 Trillion,” Truthout, August 26, 2022.
Jake Johnson, “Fueling Inequality, Earnings of Top 0.1% in US Have Soared by 465% Since 1979: Analysis,” Common Dreams, December 21, 2022.
Jessica Corbett, “Price Gouging at the Pump Results in 235% Profit Jump for Big Oil: Analysis,” Common Dreams, July 29, 2022.
Jake Johnson, “‘Jaw-Dropping’: Wall Street Bonuses Have Soared 1,743% Since 1985,” Common Dreams, March 23, 2022.


More of the Top 25 Media Censorship Stories of 2023

11. Tribal Towns Forced to Relocate Due to Climate Crisis (For full story, click here)

Many coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest lose up to seventy feet of their land annually due to erosion caused by climate change, disproportionately impacting the region’s Indigenous communities. The Biden administration has already paid $25 million apiece to three Native American villages in Alaska and Washington to move away from the encroaching waters. However, the aid that has been allocated will not even cover the cost of building new schools.

12. Fossil Fuel Money Skews University Climate and Energy Research (For full story, click here)

Even as Princeton University announced in September 2022 that it would divest from fossil fuels, dozens of universities in the United States continue to accept millions of dollars from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and allied interests, such as Koch Industries, to fund climate and energy research. Fossil-fuel firms have purposely sought to ‘colonize’ academia with industry-friendly science, rather than seed overt climate denial.

13. Accidents Reveal US Biolab Vulnerabilities (For full story, click here)

Accidents ... are not uncommon in US biolabs. The Intercept analyzed more than 5,500 pages of documents from the NIH to reveal a range of issues. Some included “malfunctioning equipment, spilled beakers, transgenic rodents running down the hall, [and] a sedated macaque coming back to life and biting a researcher.” Most of the incidents involved minor pathogens or did not lead to infection or illness. However, some accidents did result in illness.

14. Study Exposes Electric Utilities’ Climate Disinformation Campaigns (For full story, click here)

Electric utility companies have been knowingly spreading disinformation about climate change for decades. Companies such as PG&E and Commonwealth Edison were perfectly aware of the threats posed by climate change but disregarded them. In fact, electric utility representatives went so far as to dismiss action to reduce carbon emissions as “premature at best.” The main reason for the many years of apparent deceit surrounding the climate crisis was financial profit.

15. Black Americans Seven Times More Likely Than Whites to Be Wrongfully Convicted of Serious Crimes (For full story, click here)

A September 2022 National Registry of Exonerations study found that Black people are seven times more likely than White people to be wrongfully convicted of murder, sexual crimes, and drug crimes. The NRE study analyzed 3,200 exonerations for the above crimes, dating back to 1989. Fifty-three percent of those exonerated were Black, even though Black Americans make up only 13.6 percent of the general population. Only 33 percent of those exonerated were White.

16. Municipalities in Puerto Rico Sue Fossil Fuel Giants Under Organized Crime Law (For full story, click here)

Sixteen municipalities in Puerto Rico are suing Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other fossil fuel companies for their efforts to deny the role of fossil fuels in causing climate change. Municipalities of Bayamon et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corp. et al. contends that the 2017 hurricane season was made worse by global warming and that fossil fuel companies colluded to deceive the public about the impact of fossil fuel products on the climate.

17. Leaks Reveal Homeland Security Plans to Regulate Disinformation Online (For full story, click here)

A series of leaks have exposed plans by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ramp up censorship. A lawsuit filed by Missouri’s attorney general [shows] how the US government [shapes] discourse online. DHS intends to expand its efforts at policing online content to target “inaccurate information on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”

18. Debt Crisis Looms for World’s Poorest Nations (For full story, click here)

The world’s poorest countries will pay 35 percent more in debt interest bills in 2023 than they did in 2022 due to costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and a dramatic increase in the price of imported food. Ninety-one low-income countries will spend more than 16 percent of their revenues on external debt repayments, the highest level in twenty-five years. A third of all low- and middle-income countries spent more on external debt repayment than education.

19. Economic Consequences of US Gun Violence “Far Costlier” Than Previously Known (For full story, click here)

Gun violence costs Americans an astounding $557 billion per year in direct, indirect, and long-term costs, according to a July 2022 study by gun-control advocacy group. The $557 billion figure ... includes the “immediate costs of a shooting, such as the police response, investigations and ambulance services all the way to the long-term health care costs. The analysis also includes ... costs incurred by the criminal justice system, the price of mental health care and more.”

20. Derailment Furor Ignores Alarming Frequency of Toxic Chemical Spills (For full story, click here)

470 toxic chemical releases occurred in the United States between April 2020 and February 2023, roughly one incident every two days. Although the incidents the [Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters] tallied varied in severity, in each case they involved “the accidental release of chemicals deemed to pose potential threats to human and environmental health.” Most toxic chemical releases occur at facilities where chemicals are manufactured and stored.

21. Nearly Half of Unhoused People Are Employed (For full story, click here)

Many people who experience homelessness are employed. 53 percent of the sheltered unhoused population and 40 percent of the unsheltered unhoused population were employed either part- or full-time from 2011 to 2018. Unhoused people in shelters earned more than those who were unsheltered. In 2015, the mean pre-tax income for the former group was $8,169, while the mean income for the latter was $6,934.

22. Public Health Threatened by Beef Suppliers’ Continued Use of “Critically Important” Antibiotics (For full story, click here)

Beef suppliers for major fast food and supermarket chains are sourcing meat from US farms that use antibiotics linked to the spread of “superbugs,” bacteria strains that are resistant to antibiotics. The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotics essential to human medicine should not be used in livestock because bacteria can develop resistance that reduces the drugs’ effectiveness. Antibiotic resistance causes more than thirty-five thousand deaths in the [US] each year.

23. “Informal Removal” Policies Deny Educational Opportunities for Students With Disabilities (For full story, click here)

Under a policy of “informal removal,” students across the country are being sent home from school because of behavioral issues that stem from their disabilities, but this missed class time is neither counted as suspension nor documented by school administrations. Some parents reported having lost jobs because they had to leave work so frequently to pick up children who had been removed from classrooms.

24. Twitter Files Reveal US Government Pressure on Social Media Platform to Suppress Alternative Views (For full story, click here)

The “Twitter Files”—a trove of internal communications relating to Twitter’s content moderation practices ... reveal how pressure from US government agencies has shaped political content on the popular social networking service. Twitter has banned selected political voices, supported covert government operations, censored posts exploding the myth of large-scale Russian interference in the 2016 election, silenced anti-vaccine activists, and more.

25. Activism Targets Outdated State Laws That Criminalize HIV (For full story, click here)

Existing HIV laws are at odds with current scientific understanding and medical treatment of HIV. For example, eight states criminalize the act of exposing another person to HIV through spitting, even though saliva does not transmit HIV. One group seeking legal reform of outdated HIV laws is the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The Foundation’s “HIV Is Not a Crime” campaign aims to bring laws “up to date with contemporary science.”


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