According to a bombshell new report by Just the News, the Biden White House put immense pressure on Facebook to remove “often-true content” according to bombshell new documents obtained in a federal censorship collusion lawsuit by Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general.
In recently released documents, White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty put a huge amount of pressure on Facebook to remove a Washington Post article on vaccine hesitancy.
“In a March 14, 2021 email with the subject line “You are hiding the ball,” White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty showed a Facebook executive a Washington Post article on Facebook’s research into drivers of vaccine hesitancy on its own platform, including fears of worse-than-expected adverse events,” Just the News reported.
In the email thread was also President Biden’s COVID response team senior advisor Andy Slavitt.
The Facebook executive, whose name was redacted, replied to the email, saying there was a “misunderstanding.” Flaherty then fired back, telling the executive that he has been “asking you guys pretty directly” about the extent to which “borderline content” is creating vaccine hesitancy.
“We are gravely concerned” Facebook is a “top driver” of vaccine hesitancy and want to know “you’re trying” Flaherty continued as he put pressure on Facebook to censor COVID information.
Just the News reports:
The executive said the leaked research was “early work” and hadn’t gone through enough “quality assurance” to be shared publicly, but thanked Flaherty for “hold[ing] me accountable.” Slavitt responded that Facebook seemed to be “trying to meet a minimum hurdle instead of trying to solve the problem” of purported misinformation, relative to other tech platforms.
The executive agreed Facebook needs to share information faster with the White House, and a week later provided a list of changes Facebook was making. One of them was “reducing the virality of content discouraging vaccines” that does not otherwise violate a policy but “can be framed as sensation [sic], alarmist, or shocking.”
In an email on March 22, 2021 Flaherty once again put immense pressure on Facebook to censor any information that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in a lengthy email.
“As l’ve said: this is not to play gotcha,” Flaherty said as he pushed Facebook to censor information. “It is to get a sense of what you are doing to manage this. This is a really tricky problem. You and I might disagree on the plan, but I want to get a sense of the problem and a sense of what your solutions are.”
Facebook then responded to Flaherty with “next-steps” where they would censor “often-true content” just because the White House didn’t like it.
“You also asked us about our levers for reducing virality of vaccine hesitancy content. In addition to policies previously discussed, these include the additional changes that were approved late last week and that we’ll be implementing over the coming weeks,” Facebook said in their email. “As you know, in addition to removing vaccine misinformation, we have been focused on reducing the virality of content discouraging vaccines that does not contain actionable misinformation. This is often- true content, which we allow at the post level because experts have advised us that it is important for people to be able to discuss both their personal experiences and concerns about the vaccine, but it can be framed as sensation, alarmist, or shocking. We’ll remove these Groups, Pages, and Accounts when they are disproportionately promoting this sensationalized content. More on this front as we proceed to implement.”
Read full email exchange here.