Biden Demanded Facebook Censor Tucker Carlson, Memes, and 'True' Information

The U.S. government influenced Facebook’s content moderation policies targeting “misinformation.”

Written by Hudson Crozier

The scoop: The House Judiciary Committee released documents showing President Joe Biden’s administration aggressively pressured Facebook to censor COVID-19 vaccine skepticism. This adds to the numerous records of pandemic censorship on Facebook and X, formerly Twitter, that have been revealed by courts and journalists. The new Facebook Files show how authoritative the government’s role was — it had a direct influence on Facebook’s content moderation policies.

Censorship demands: White House medical adviser Andy Slavitt wanted Facebook to censor a Tucker Carlson video that didn’t violate any policies. An employee described Slavitt as “outraged” that the platform had not removed a meme about vaccines (shown below). Biden's surgeon general even demanded the removal of “true information about [vaccine] side effects,” according to an employee. Facebook did not appear to fulfill any of these requests but did reduce engagement with the Carlson clip.

Pressure to obey: Facebook employees grew worried about the White House’s frustration with them, saying that a lot is “at stake” in the situation. The “continued criticism” inspired them to “brainstorm” how to make Facebook’s “misinformation” policies “more aggressive.” On another occasion, Facebook added restrictions as a “response” to the surgeon general.

Why it matters: Government-induced censorship has inspired two federal lawsuits and ongoing scrutiny from Congress. Facebook only turned over these records after the House Judiciary Committee threatened to hold CEO Mark Zuckerberg in contempt. Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he will make the threat again if the company “fails to cooperate” with his investigation.

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