During Wednesday’s White House press conference, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to questions regarding a recent federal judge-issued order that demands the administration turn over communications with social media platforms regarding misinformation and censorship.
"A federal judge ordered that you have 20 days to turn over emails communicating with social media companies over misinformation and disinformation. What are those emails going to show?" a reporter asked.
"So I can’t comment — you asked me this question last week. I can’t comment on any specifically ongoing litigation. And so again, I’d refer you, would refer you to the Department of Justice," Jean-Pierre responded.
"A couple of things that I would say, just as a general matter on this, as we said over and over again: since the beginning of the administration in our battle against Covid-19, it has been crucial for the American people to have access to factual, accurate, science-based information and ensuring that any media platforms have access to the latest information on a once-in-a-generation pandemic, is something that has been done since the earliest days of the pandemic beginning under the former president," she continued, noting once again for the reporter to contact the Justice Department.
"What about if those communications are still happening? Are there frequent contacts between the administration and social media companies?" He pressed.
"So, I'll say this, you know, as we have said before, there has been ongoing work dating to the Trump administration to provide accurate Covid information where folks get their news. Again, this is litigation that is ongoing and is currently happening, clearly that's why it's ongoing, and so I would defer to Department of Justice on that," Jean-Pierre responded.
On Tuesday, Judge Terry Doughty ruled that the Biden administration has 21 days to turn over all email communications sent by Jean-Pierre and White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci to social media platforms, according to Fox News.
The judge’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed in May by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, which accused the Biden administration of suppressing free speech on topics like elections, Covid-related lockdowns, and the Covid-19 lab leak theory.
While the White House argued that the communications fell under executive privilege and presidential communications privilege, Doughty said, "This Court believes Plaintiffs are entitled to external communications by Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci in their capacities as White House Press Secretary and Chief Medical Advisor to the President to third-party social media platforms."
At the beginning of the month, it was revealed that "A recurring meeting usually entitled USG – Industry meeting, which has generally had a monthly cadence, and is between government agencies and private industry. Government participants have included CISA’s Election Security and Resilience team, DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the FBI’s foreign influence task force, the Justice Department’s national security division, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Industry participants have included Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Microsoft, Verizon Media, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the Wikimedia Foundation. The topics discussed include, but are not limited to: information sharing around elections risk, briefs from industry, threat updates, and highlights and upcoming watch outs."
Companies included in this so-called "Partner Support Panel" include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
In a more than 700 page Join Statement on Discovery Disputes, filed on August 31, it revealed that more than 32 federal agents had communicated with the Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta about content moderation, while YouTube disclosed that 11 agents had been in contact, and Twitter had been in contact with nine federal officials.
Meta, for example, suppressed and deemed "misinformation" posts regarding vaccination side effects, vaccine passports, concerns regarding menstrual cycles.
The company had also been in contact with someone at the State Department, and gave details on the efforts Facebook had taken to "control information and misinformation related to Corona virus."
"As you may already be aware, Facebook has taken proactive as well as reactive steps to control information and misinformation related to Corona virus which includes links to WHO page as well as removal of misinformation."
"At Mark Zuckerberg's request," it continues, "there is a group that has been organized to help generate and implement new ideas 'offense' approach on how FB can assist in the global response to the Coronavirus. This group met on Friday, brainstormed and proposed a list of prioritized ideas to Mark. Mark supported further exploration and go forward on the following ideas. As an immediate next step, our team has been asked to solicit quick, high-end level partner feedback on these ideas."
Those ideas include: "A centralized page with curated and localized content from trusted sources. This info is currently fragmented and hard for the public to understand. It would be helpful to have canonical real-time info on (a) updates relevant to your location (b) what to do to stay healthy and (c) how and when to seek medical help. Encourage people to take action by sharing this page.
"Influencer Engagement Campaign: Enlist celebrities, major NGOs, government officials, and other public figures to use the Coronavirus stickers and link to the Coronavirus Facebook Page to build awareness of accurate information.
"Coronavirus Support Stickers on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Stories (mock here): Allow people to show their support for people affected by coronavirus. On Instagram, the sticker could link out to the Coronavirus Page on Facebook (link out not available on Facebook and Messenger.)"
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