Washington, DC – -(AmmoLand.com)- “Tech platforms are notoriously opaque,” the White House complained last week, saying Americans deserve to know more about how online forums decide “when and how to remove content from their sites.”
Yet the Biden administration, which routinely pressures social media companies to suppress speech it does not like, is hardly a model of transparency in this area.
In a lawsuit they filed last May, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt argue that the administration’s “Orwellian” crusade against “misinformation” violates the First Amendment. They are trying to find out more about this “vast ‘Censorship Enterprise’ across a multitude of federal agencies,” and the administration is fighting them every step of the way.
So far, Landry and Schmitt have identified 45 federal officials who “communicate with social media platforms” about curtailing “misinformation.” Emails obtained during discovery show those platforms are desperate to comply with the government’s demands for speech restrictions, including the removal of specific messages and accounts.
On July 16, 2021, President Joe Biden accused Facebook of “killing people” by failing to suppress misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. That same day, a senior executive at the platform’s parent company emailed Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in an effort to assuage the president’s anger.
“Reaching out after what has transpired over the past few days following the publication of the misinformation advisory, and culminating today in the President’s remarks about us,” the Meta executive wrote. “I know our teams met today to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.”
Murthy had just published an advisory in which he urged a “whole-of-society” effort, possibly including “legal and regulatory measures,” to combat the “urgent threat to public health” posed by “health misinformation.” Biden’s homicide charge came the next day, and Meta was keen to address the president’s concerns by cracking down on speech that offended him.
Shortly afterward, Landry and Schmitt report, the same executive sent Murthy a text message. “It’s not great to be accused of killing people,” he said, adding that he was “keen to find a way to deescalate and work together collaboratively.”
And so he did. “Thanks again for taking the time to meet earlier today,” the Meta executive said in a July 23, 2021, email to the Department of Health and Human Services. “I wanted to make sure you saw the steps we took just this past week to adjust policies on what we are removing with respect to misinformation.”
Old Fashion Censorship & Shadow-Banning
The executive bragged that Meta had deleted objectionable pages, groups and Instagram accounts, taken steps to make several pages and profiles “more difficult to find on our platform” and “expanded the group of false claims that we remove.” Other messages show that Twitter was equally eager to fall in line.
Social media companies have a First Amendment right to exercise editorial discretion. But that’s not what is really happening when their decisions are shaped by implicit or explicit threats from the government.
The White House mentioned a few of those threats last week: “antitrust legislation,” privacy regulation, and “fundamental reforms” to the law that shields platforms from liability for content posted by users. Given the broad powers that the federal government has to make life difficult for social media companies, the administration’s “asks” for stricter moderation are tantamount to commands.
Federal officials expect obsequious compliance, and that is what they get. This largely surreptitious exercise in censorship by proxy, practiced by an administration that preaches transparency while practicing opacity, is especially troubling because it targets not only demonstrably false claims but also speech that the government considers “misleading” or contrary to the prevailing “consensus.”
Whether the subject is the origins of COVID-19, the effectiveness of face masks or the newsworthiness of Hunter Biden’s laptop, that consensus often proves to be wrong. Both publicly and behind the scenes, federal officials are subverting the free inquiry and open debate required to reveal those errors.
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About Jacob Sullum
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @JacobSullum. During two decades in journalism, he has relentlessly skewered authoritarians of the left and the right, making the case for shrinking the realm of politics and expanding the realm of individual choice. Jacobs’ work appears here at AmmoLand News through a license with Creators Syndicate.
Let’s go Brandon #FJB and all Democrats .
the do as i say lies are about power, I for one would rather shoot them all dead and let god sort them out
Regarding Covid and the jab, how much of what was labeled “misinformation” has turned out to be truth?
What is the lifespan of a conspiracy theory these days?
About 3 months, then it becomes fact.
Well? As far as Covid, the movie CONTAGION came out in 2011 and I’ll be damned, it seems NOBODY ever watched it! CONTAGION was the EXACT SAME THING we went through over the last 2 years.. DAMN NEAR WORD-FOR-WORD TO THE SCRIPT and it’s as if nobody noticed?
In his 1994 novel “Debt of Honor”, Tom Clancy writes of a JAL 747 being deliberately flown into the Capitol building during a special joint session of Congress and practically decapitating the United States Government.
Yet after the attacks on 9/11/2001, some fool in FedGov actually said “We never imagined someone using an airliner as a guided missile.”
Not only do these Bozos not have very much imagination, they apparently don’t read much either.
So why do we pay them 6 figure salaries?
Yes true & Mission Impossible 2’s script also shows how life imitates art. This happens all the time in movies are an integral part of that construct. Sometimes subliminal & sometimes overt. There are tons of movies that reveal this method & truth. A bad actor scientist from a Biolab created Chimera virus is foisted upon humanity & the MI crew is tasked with saving the planet from the evil Chimera virus.
Method Revelation they call it.
they are so stupid they dont envision a cement mixer as a bomb ,three 55 gallon drums in oklahoma city what would a 12 yard mixer do
Social media is toast & has already been to those with a real life. Elon Musk Technocratic chameleon huckster, won’t be able to resurrect the CIA’s creation & re-brand the dance done. Since when is real transparency a bad thing to hide ? Checks & Balances not by a tyrant’s decree or edict. IIRC 1st A freedom of speech is a protected right period. Facts are facts, not a grading curve for Barking Moonbat Libturds/Marxist’s/Trotsky’s/Stalinist’s/Corporate Fascistism/Fabian Socialist’s/Zionist’s/dumbed down order followers or any other ideological hybrid is NOT what it means or about. Feelings about facts, opinions or ideologies don’t trump… Read more »
Another good reason to dump FB, Meta, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days.
Joe Biden is the most 2 faced bast–d that ever lived! He’s been loitering in US government nearly 40 years now and never once expressed the hateful, deviant intentions he expresses every time he opens his mouth now.
Not enough to attack the 2A. Biden and co. are after the 1A, also.