‘Facebook Files’ Show Extent of Biden Regime’s Censorship
The Biden White House has repeatedly pressured Facebook to censor conservative news outlets, according to newly-released documents. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) published the third installment of the “Facebook files” on Thursday, containing information from subpoenaed documents relating to communications between the Biden administration and Facebook executives. Notably, the White House asked Facebook to change its news feed algorithm to amplify stories by legacy media outlets like The New York Times and bury stories from conservative news sources like the Daily Wire.
According to Jordan’s post, White House executives used concerns over COVID-19 “misinformation” to pressure social media sites into suppressing or censoring certain sources of information. In April of 2021, then-Director of Digital Strategy at the White House, Rob Flaherty, told Facebook “to explain to President, Ron, people, why there is misinfo on the internet …” Flaherty asked Facebook to start labeling stories from certain outlets (such as the New York Post, which had previously been censored for covering the Hunter Biden laptop story) as misinformation or as misleading before asking Facebook to just “kick people off.”
After the White House demanded Facebook “play ball,” Flaherty then explicitly asked Facebook to censor conservative news outlets and commentators. He asked Facebook “to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people.” Another White House official explained that Americans couldn’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves about what is or isn’t factual. Courtney Rowe, who at the time served as Biden’s COVID communications strategist, quipped, “If someone in rural Arkansas sees something on FB, it’s the truth.”
Initially, Facebook agreed to “contain” misinformation but wouldn’t pledge to outright censor users or news outlets. But the White House applied more pressure and Flaherty insisted Facebook act “to reduce the spread of bad information” and to keep users away from “bad content.” Facebook complied and implemented a new system to “shadowban” certain posts: posts advocating or leading to direct physical harm would be removed, others would be allowed to stay on the site but would be kept from other users’ screens. The main focus was discussion surrounding the COVID-19 “vaccine.”
One Facebook employee Jordan quotes said, “For example, someone sharing negative side effect posts. Similarly, posts questioning whether you should get a vaccine under a mandate, whether it’s government overreach. We demote those. That’s not false information, but it leads to a vaccine negative environment.”
That employee further clarified that information surrounding the spread of COVID-19 was treated more simply, with only “vaccine” posts receiving special treatment: “When it comes to looking at COVID misinformation, it’s a different approach. What we normally do is just delete or leave to fact checkers. Here, we introduced a middle ground.”
Jordan said the subpoenaed documents demonstrate “the Biden White House’s desire to direct and control content on Facebook. More evidence of the censorship-industrial complex.” In previous “Facebook files” posts, Jordan shared emails in which Biden advisor Andy Slavitt called on Facebook to censor American citizens and disregarded Facebook executives’ concerns that such behavior “would represent a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression in the US.”
This follows the recent Missouri v. Biden case, which revealed the administration had colluded with social media companies to censor free speech online in America. Missouri attorney general Andrew Bailey called the Biden administration’s censorship “the worst First Amendment violations in this nation’s history.” Although Judge Terry Doughty initially banned the Biden administration from communicating internally with social media companies, a federal appeals court put a temporary halt on that order, allowing the regime to continue its censorship.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.