Did you think what you saw on your Facebook feed was determined by your interests and your friends?
New documents uncovered by Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who heads the House Judiciary Committee, reveal the Biden White House furiously pressured Facebook to censor content that raised questions about or criticized the COVID-19 vaccine—and Facebook surrendered and did so.
“These newly subpoenaed meeting notes continue to show the Biden White House’s desire to direct and control content on Facebook,” writes Jordan.
Rob Flaherty, then-director of digital strategy at the Biden White House, said to Facebook, “If you were to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see [New York Times], [Wall Street Journal], any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people. You wouldn’t have a mechanism to check the material impact?”
Talk about Big Brother.
Lahren, a commentator, had been outspoken about her choice to not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Conservative news outlet The Daily Wire sued in November 2021 to halt enforcement of the Biden administration’s requirement that all workplaces of 100 or more people force vaccines or regular testing on their employees.
These were the voices the White House wanted to suppress. Interestingly, Flaherty also referenced the New York Post—which, of course, was the outlet behind the famously suppressed pre-election Hunter Biden laptop story. Did the White House once again want to punish the Post for reporting news President Joe Biden didn’t like?
White House staff were also clear about why they wanted to suppress anti-vaccine or vaccine-skeptical voices: They didn’t trust Americans to be able to make informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“If someone in rural Arkansas sees something on FB, it’s the truth,” said Courtney Rowe, who oversaw the Biden administration’s communications around COVID-19.
Facebook tried to reassure the White House. They didn’t remove the vaccine-skeptical content the White House hated, but they quietly squashed its reach.
A Facebook employee referred to “borderline demotions” that applied to “negative side effect posts” or “posts questioning whether you should get a vaccine under a mandate, whether it’s government overreach.”
“We demote those,” the unnamed Facebook employee added. “That’s not false information, but it leads to a vaccine negative environment.”
So just to recap: Rather than allow Americans to make informed decisions about a new medical treatment, the White House pressured a private company to suppress the speech of Americans.
Biden might as well just rip up the Constitution on national TV.
Jordan’s latest revelations, released Thursday, are part of ongoing series about how the White House pressured the social media giant to censor content related to COVID-19—even going so far as to target a meme.
Another document shows that Facebook targeted a Tucker Carlson video—even though the tech company acknowledged the video didn’t violate Facebook’s rules. For content to be removed, it either had to urge people not to get the vaccine—or have “explicit misrepresentation” about the vaccine. Carlson’s video didn’t.
But Facebook was scared to defy the White House. Enter the sly “demotion” tool. Yes, Carlson’s video apparently had 40,000 shares. But that huge reach came despite Facebook’s best attempts to slow the reach of the video.
According to the document Jordan received, “The video is receiving 50% demotion for seven days as it is in the queue to be fact checked.”
What’s telling is neither the White House nor Facebook appears to be calling here for outright banning and blocking. That, after all, would be public. If The Daily Wire or Tomi Lahren or Tucker Carlson had content fully blocked on Facebook, they could publicly share that content elsewhere with their large audiences and draw attention to Facebook’s censorship.
Instead, Facebook, pressured by the White House, manipulated the algorithm. For anyone without access to the Facebook algorithm, it would be impossible to prove that any particular piece of content’s reach was artificially suppressed.
How clever. How sneaky.
Biden’s White House pressured one of the largest and most influential companies in America. That should outrage every American—regardless of what you think about the COVID-19 vaccine.
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