The federal government actively colluded with Big Tech over the past year to censor conversations about covid that they thought contained false or inaccurate information, according to newly released emails.
Obtained via a lawsuit filed against top-ranking Biden administration officials by Missouri and Louisiana Attorneys General (AG) Eric Schmitt and Jeff Landry for “colluding with social media companies to censor free speech,” the communication records show members of federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coordinating with social media platforms on how to handle “misinformation” regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an email dated July 16, 2021, addressed to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a senior representative for Facebook discussed how the company and Biden administration officials met “to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from [Facebook] on misinformation going forward.”
“In our previous conversations, I’ve appreciated the way you and your team have approached our engagement, and we have worked hard to meet the moment — we’ve dedicated enormous time and resources to fighting this pandemic and consider ourselves to be partners in fighting the same battle,” the Facebook official wrote.
The email to Murthy came a day after the Surgeon General’s issuance of an Advisory warning against the “threat of health misinformation,” in which Murthy called on “tech and social media companies” to “do more to address the spread on their platforms.”
According to the communication logs released by Schmitt, the same senior Facebook representative later sent an email to an official within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in which Facebook thanked the HHS rep for “taking the time to meet” and expand upon the steps the company took with respect to removing “misinformation” and “further address the ‘disinfo dozen.’”
“[W]e removed 17 additional Pages, Groups, and Instagram accounts tied to the disinfo dozen (so a total of 39 Profiles, Groups, and IG accounts deleted thus far, resulting in every member of the disinfo dozen having had at least one such entity removed),” the email reads. “We are also continuing to make 4 other Pages and Profiles, which have not yet met their removal thresholds, more difficult to find on our platform. We also expanded the group of false claims that we remove to keep up with recent trends of misinformation that we are seeing.”
A separate document addressed to Surgeon General Murthy also shows additional steps Facebook took to censor Americans on the platform, including “increasing the strength” of “demotions for COVID and vaccine-related content that third-party fact checkers rate as ‘Partly False’ or ‘Missing Context’ so that any such information would “demoted at the same strength that [Facebook] demote[s] any content” rated as “False.”
The cozy relationship between Facebook and federal health agencies like the CDC didn’t stop there, with the two entities often holding regular meetings to discuss the latter’s censorship efforts.
In an email chain dated July 28, 2021, a senior Facebook official asked the CDC if “in addition to [their] weekly meetings,” the CDC would be interested in “doing a monthly misinfo/debunking meeting, with maybe claim topics communicated a few days prior so that [the CDC] can bring in matching experts and chat casually for 30 minutes or so.”
“Yes, we would love to do that,” a CDC official replied.
The Biden administration’s assault on free speech wasn’t exclusive to covid-19, however. On July 20, 2021, Digital Director for the White House Covid-19 Response Team Clarke Humphrey sent an email to Facebook asking if the group could remove a parody Instagram account of Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Hi there — any way we can get this pulled down? It is not actually one of ours,” Humphrey said, to which a Facebook official replied, “Yep, on it!”
In addition to Facebook, Twitter also made efforts to collude with the federal government regarding Covid. The emails also show Twitter asking to set up regular meetings with government health officials to “examine trends” regarding “problematic content,” such as fraudulent “covid cures” and “vaccine cards.”
Other examples of coordination between the federal government and Big Tech companies include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reaching out “to Twitter, Google, Meta, and Microsoft” this past May “following the botched rollout of DHS’ Disinformation Governance Board.” Furthermore, in February 2022, the Deputy Secretary at the Biden Treasury Department had an inquiry sent to Facebook to set connect and “discuss potential influence operations on social media.”
“The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General; and evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission,” Schmitt and Landry said in a joint statement. “And it rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials.”
The release of the bombshell emails comes following confirmation by Meta (Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the FBI interfered in the 2020 presidential election by pressuring his company to “censor Russian misinformation — and thus the Hunter Biden laptop story.”
Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood