White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained the Biden administration’s method of getting rid of unwanted information and commentary on social media platforms. The White House is only flagging ‘trends’ that it finds undesirable and not individual posts, so allegedly everything is hunky-dorey.
“Will the White House publicly release information on posts that it considers misinformation on vaccines that it’s asked Facebook to block?” a reporter asked Psaki on Monday.
“First of all, we have not asked Facebook to block any individual posts,” Psaki claimed. “The way this works is that there are trending — there are trends that are out there on social media platforms. You are aware of them. We are aware of them. Anyone in the public can be aware of them.”
“There is also data that we look at that many media platforms, like many of you also look at data, in terms of trends and you report on it,’ she continued. “Which is to be expected given the number of people who get their information from social media.”
“It’s up to social media platforms to determine what their application is of their own rules and regulations,” Psaki explained. “So we just certainly raise where we have concerns about information that’s inaccurate, that is traveling out there in whatever platform it’s traveling on.”
The White House may be playing dumb about how its method of flagging speech it does not agree with to tech companies doesn’t violate the First Amendment. Yet this is not the case, as the Liberty Center’s Harmeet Dhillion explains in an op-ed at Fox News.
“White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday made groundbreaking admissions revealing the Biden administration’s agenda of deciding what speech Americans are allowed to hear,” Dhillion writes. “Psaki admitted, ‘members of the [White House] senior staff’ are ‘in regular touch with the social media platforms’ for the purpose of addressing this ‘big issue of misinformation’,” she continued.
“Whether it is a member of the White House’s senior staff, the secretary of state of California or anyone else carrying the weight of the government, the unholy collusion between ‘Big Tech’ and ‘Big Government’ isn’t just another shameful example of the censorship we’re witnessing internationally – in America, it is blatantly unconstitutional,” Dhillon added.
“As recently as 2019, the Supreme Court reasoned ‘a private entity can qualify as a state actor,’ subject to First Amendment protections, under three circumstances,” Dhillion pointed out, citing three cases.
“When the private entity performs a traditional, exclusive public function,” see Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co. (1974); “When the government compels the private entity to take a particular action,” see Blum v. Yaretsky, (1982); or *“When the government acts jointly with the private entity.” See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co. (1982).
Dhillon also pointed at the case filed by the Liberty Center, O’Handley v. Padilla, which tackles California’s coordination with Big Tech on censoring criticism of the 2020 election.
“In both cases, the government is working with and directing social media platform proxies to remove user expression that clearly would enjoy the protection of the First Amendment if the government tried to censor it directly. Such joint action runs afoul of established SCOTUS precedent,” Dhillon notes.
On Monday, Joe Biden backed off of his previous accusation that Facebook was “killing people” after the company’s strong pushback against the accusation.
Biden responded to a reporter’s question about his earlier statement.
“Mr. President, you said last week that companies like Facebook are killing people,” a reporter asked.
“I know precisely what I said,” Biden responded. ” I am glad you asked me that question. One, I had just read that Facebook pointed out — it was pointed out that Facebook of all the misinformation, 60 percent of the misinformation came from 12 individuals. That’s what the article said.”
“So I was asked that question about what do I think is happening?” he contiued. “Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It is killing people. It’s bad information.”
“My hope is that Facebook instead of taking it personally that somehow I am saying that Facebook is killing people that they would do something about the misinformation. The outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant.”
“Have they done enough in your opinion to stop —” the reporter pressed.
“To be completely honest with you, I don’t think they did anything today, up to — over the weekend I don’t think they had, but I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question,” he confessed.
“Will you hold them accountable as they don’t do more to stop the spread?” he said.
“When you say hold accountable, I just want to — I’m not trying to hold people accountable, I’m trying to make people to look at themselves,” he deflected. “Look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relative, someone you love. That’s all I am asking.”
It was an answer to a loaded question that risked exposing the president’s intention to violate the First Amendment rights of Americans. Biden dodged giving a direct answer. The toothpaste is likely out of the tube on that, however.
Facebook had earlier released a statement after being accused by President Biden of ‘killing people’ because it wasn’t censoring enough COVID ‘misinformation’ at the behest of the U.S. government.
It could be argued that the White House’s statements was an attempt at coercing the social media company into doing its bidding. The Facebook statement was released on Friday:
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the Internet.”
“More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine,” the statement added. “The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
It should be appreciated, first of all, that the U.S. government and Facebook have been working together to fight “misinformation” online, but clearly cannot even agree on the truth behind a single public statement by the president.
This is the irony that results when a private company teams up with the U.S. government to become the sole arbiters of “truth” in a public information space. Facebook practically called Biden’s statement ‘fake news.’
On Friday, Psaki had even gone further than arguing that purveyors of purported ‘misinformation’ should be censored on Facebook, but added that they should be banned from all social media platforms, which she even called “public platforms.”
“Also with the public, all of you, to create robust enforcement strategies that provide transparency about rules,” Psaki said. “You should not be banned from one platform and not others if you are providing misinformation out there.”
Clearly, Psaki is referring to individual Americans that the White House would like to see banned. It is an obvious indication that the White House is leveraging its authority to argue for censorship in the media.