White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted Thursday that the Biden administration is working with Facebook by identifying “problematic posts” about COVID-19 for Facebook to censor because they contain “misinformation.”
During the White House daily press briefing, Psaki disclosed the White House’s role in policing social media posts after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on big tech companies to purge more pandemic-related posts. Both Psaki and Murthy specifically told reporters that they are concerned about “misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines and are calling on companies, specifically Facebook, to purge more COVID posts.
“We are in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic,” Psaki said.
“In terms of actions that we have taken — or we’re working to take, from the federal government: We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect medical experts who are popular with their audiences with accurate information and boost trusted content. So we’re helping get trusted content out there,” Psaki added.
Psaki outlined four “key steps” of “proposed changes” the White House has made to social media platforms, noting the administration found 12 active users who are “producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation.” The four steps the White House proposed recommendation for social media companies to do in order to censor posts including “measure” the impact of reach and the audience it is reaching of the COVID vaccine misinformation, and “creating a robust enforcement strategy” on providing transparency on rules for posting “misinformation. The other steps Psaki emphasized focus on forcing Facebook to take a much “faster action” in removing “harmful [and] violative posts,” so they don’t remain up for days and “promote[ing] quality information” by using their algorithm to push the “quality information” out on all users feeds to see.
At the beginning of Thursday’s briefing, Murthy rolled out the first Surgeon General’s Advisory to combat the misinformation from being spread, explaining to reporters how the Biden administration is working with social media companies and asking them to “consistently take action against misinformation super-spreaders on their platforms.”
“Health misinformation is false, inaccurate, or misleading information about health, according to the best evidence at the time. And while it often appears innocuous on social media apps and retail sites or search engines, the truth is that misinformation takes away our freedom to make informed decisions about our health and the health of our loved ones,” Murthy said.
“Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users. They’ve allowed people who intentionally spread misinformation — what we call “disinformation” to have extraordinary reach,” he added.
However, neither Psaki and Murthy didn’t answer a shouted question about the fact that Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, who himself has fluctuated on his own opinion on COVID information, based on the trove of the 3,200 of his emails obtained, including the top infectious disease expert contradicting throughout the pandemic on mask efficacy, as well as the censorship of claims that later is gaining credibility regarding the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a Chinese lab.
Facebook reversed censoring posts regarding the claim that COVID-19 may have emerged from China’s own Wuhan Institute of Virology due to “evolving” information that supported the theory.
“In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made from our apps,” a Facebook spokesperson told Politico in May. “We’re continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge.”
In February, Facebook banned claims that “COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured,” slapping “False Information” flag labels on any post that shared stories of errors at a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan that caused the virus. The Facebook label alert stated that such findings were “checked by independent fact-checkers” and preventing others from clicking on articles to read.
Social media networks are notorious for censoring posts from conservative media despite downplaying claims. Both Facebook and Twitter censored The New York Post’s reporting last October on reports detailing documents of shady business dealings Hunter Biden conducted with China and Ukraine while his father was Vice President that was uncovered from his abandoned MacBook.
Former President Trump filed a class-action lawsuit last week against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, arguing that three big tech companies are violating Americans’ First Amendment rights by selectively censoring information along with its recent action of banning and suspending his accounts.
Trump was completely banned from Twitter, while Facebook has kept him suspended until at least January 2023, with the possibility of restoring if Trump is no longer deemed a “risk to public safety” following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) became the first Governor to sign a bill into law that would have fined companies for kicking politicians off their social media platform. However, a federal judge last month blocked the law from going into effect after tech industry groups sued DeSantis on the basis the law violated the First Amendment and freedom of speech.