Facebook Files reveal Biden administration had Facebook censor 'true information' about Covid-19 vaccines

"Because we were under pressure from the administration." 

In a part two of the Facebook Files released on Friday, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan (R-OH) revealed newly subpoenaed documents that show Meta's Facebook "bowed to the Biden White House's pressure to remove posts."

In the Twitter thread, Jordan wrote, "In summer of 2021, the White House was mounting a nationwide push for Americans to get vaccinated for Covid-19. Part of that push included a public and SECRET campaign to get Facebook to more aggressively police vaccine-related content." He added, "including TRUE information." 

Jordan showed an email from Facebook's head of Global affairs. After he was asked why they were censoring the lab leak theory, they responded "Because we were under pressure from the administration." 

"We removed four claims that multiple fact-checkers had labeled false even though we didn't have a harm assessment," they continued. "We shouldn't have done it. We stopped removing man made claim in May and we're moving the other three (covid is new/patented) from remove to reduce and inform." 

After President Biden complained publicly in July 2021 that Americans were hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine because of content they saw on Facebook, employees complained that the administration seemed to blame the organization out of convenience "when the vaccine campaign isn't going well." One said that the administration's "definition of 'misinfo' is completely unclear."

"This seems like a political battlefield that's not fully grounded in facts,  and it's frustrating," another employee responded. 

According to the files, the administration wanted "humorous or satirical content that suggests the vaccine isn't safe," as well as "true information about the side effects." 

In August 2021, Facebook gave in to the administration's demands and changed its policy on misinformation. Jordan's document said, "Leadership asked Misinfo Policy and a couple of teams on Product Policy to brainstorm some additional Policy levers we can pull to be more aggressive against Covid and vaccine misinformation." 

"This is stemming from the continued criticism of our approach from the US administration," it added. 

The first batch of the Facebook Files was released on Thursday and showed an email to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg which they were informed the company was "facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the [Biden] White House and the press, to remove more COVID-19 vaccine discouraging content."

It showed that the administration was furious with the organization for not removing a single meme that discouraged the vaccine. Noting that senior Biden Advisor Andy Slavitt brushed off Facebook's concern that "removing content like that would represent a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression in the US."

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