By Zachary Stieber
Newly disclosed documents showing Big Tech companies repeatedly took action after being pressured by White House and other Biden administration officials prove the U.S. government colluded with the companies, according to a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA).
“It’s clear that the government was telling Facebook and Twitter and other social media companies what to do and that they were responding and they were doing that, deleting accounts, taking down posts, etc., which really corroborates our state action theory,” the lawyer, Jenin Younes, told The Epoch Times.
The documents were made public this week as part of an ongoing case against the government, brought by two attorneys general, over alleged violations of the First Amendment.
They showed that officials with the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies were in communications with Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other companies regarding content moderation, repeatedly urging the companies to punish users who were promoting alleged COVID-19 misinformation of disinformation.
For example, Rob Flaherty, a White House official, pressured Facebook to take action against “mis- and -disinformation” as well as “hesitancy-inducing content,” one email showed.
After Facebook and White House officials met, a Facebook executive asked the White House to “partner on” plans to address “new misinformation claims” following the expected authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years.
Flaherty later signaled he wasn’t satisfied, sharing a link to a story about supposed misinformation on Facebook and writing, “not even sure what to say at this point.”
Another administration official, whose name was redacted, reached out to Twitter to offer an expert to brief Twitter on people “citing CDC VAERS data incorrectly,” which it said “is a major source of misinformation.”
VAERS, or the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, is a system to which people can report adverse events following vaccination.
Twitter accepted the invitation.
Administration officials held at least 45 meetings on misinformation or related topics with Big Tech companies since early 2021, the documents showed.
These included meetings between the Office of the Surgeon General and Google, meetings between the CDC and Twitter, and meetings between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Facebook.
The CDC repeatedly held “Be on the Lookout meetings” in which it offered specific examples of what officials designated as misinformation, according to the documents and others that were previously released. The Department of Homeland Security met with Microsoft to discuss disinformation and the White House met with Facebook multiple times.
After one of the meetings, Facebook told HHS officials that it was taking “historic actions” in four areas put forth by the White House in recommendations to social media platforms in July, including taking action on misinformation.
“These contacts are not sporadic in any way. They’re almost daily if you look at everything,” John Vecchione, NCLA’s senior litigator in the case, told The Epoch Times.
First Amendment Violations
The original complaint noted the public calls from Biden administration officials for social media companies to crack down, saying that companies acting on those calls were violations of the First Amendment.
“A private entity violates the First Amendment ‘if the government coerces or induces it to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint,’” the complaint stated, quoting from a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“This is exactly what has occurred over the past several years, beginning with express and implied threats from government officials and culminating in the Biden Administration’s open and explicit censorship programs. Having threatened and cajoled social media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation’, and ‘malinformation,’” the complaint added.
Even the attorneys general and other lawyers involved in the case were stunned when the first tranche of discovery—the documents made public this week—were delivered, Vecchione said.
The lawyers “are shocked by the amount of inland pressure and information going back and forth between the ostensibly private entities and the federal government on what you can say and not say in America.
The plaintiffs have asked the judge to compel the government to produce more documents.
Affiliate News Feeds
- Washington Examiner
- The Federalist
- The Epoch Times
- The Guardian
- The Gateway Pundit
CHANTILLY, Virginia — A group of roughly 70 students at Chantilly High School in northern Virginia marched out of class and off school grounds without adult supervision to protest Republican… [...]
President Joe Biden's plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt is facing its first serious legal challenge alleging it violates federal law and the Constitution,… [...]
As inflation weighs on the public, 71% of workers claimed their salary and wage growth is being outpaced by a rise in the cost of living. [...]
When the FBI raided Trump last month, we knew it was bad. But most of us know that this latest show of brute force is even worse. [...]
'I'm really worried about other people who are getting sucked into thinking that gender transition is the answer to problems that would be better solved elsewhere,' one detransitioner said. [...]
The House Select Committee on Jan. 6 postponed Wednesday's hearing to move the panel's latest show trial closer to Election Day. [...]
A federal appeals court in Manhattan handed former President Donald Trump a procedural victory Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit, after famed columnist E. Jean Carroll claimed that Trump had raped… [...]
President Joe Biden on Sept. 27 announced that he will keep in place the current cap on refugee admissions at 125,000 for the fiscal year 2023, allowing hundreds of thousands of… [...]
An election-integrity group is filing a new legal complaint each day this week regarding a different Minnesota county for officials’ failure to remove duplicate voter registrations from county voter rolls.… [...]
Bank starts buying long-dated government bonds, as it ‘stands ready to restore market functioning and reduce any risks from contagion to credit conditions for UK households and businesses’Over here, chancellor… [...]
Russia hails results in voting condemned by most of west; fears border crossings out of Russia could close as men flee mobilisationWhat we know on day 217 of the invasionSweden’s… [...]
Electricity grid collapses in Cuba after hurricane passes through, as 2.5 million people in Florida ordered to evacuateCuba’s electricity grid has collapsed, leaving the entire country without power in the… [...]
The race for a U.S. Senate seat in Washington State is tightening and Republican Tiffany Smiley is making serious gains on Democrat Patty Murray. This is probably not a race… [...]
An illegal alien who was serving life in prison for the deadly Las Vegas bombing in 2007 has escaped from the Southern Desert Correctional Center. Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, 42, was discovered… [...]
Maricopa County is already covering its tracks ahead of the 2022 General Election with what some are calling a “Ministry of Truth” to prevent real media and honest questions. “Maricopa… [...]