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January 19, 2023

Reason: FaceBook Acted as the Government's Censorship Bureau, Too

Muh Private Corporations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) played a direct role in policing permissible speech on social media throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Confidential emails obtained by Reason show that Facebook moderators were in constant contact with the CDC, and routinely asked government health officials to vet claims relating to the virus, mitigation efforts such as masks, and vaccines.

...

The Facebook Files, which were obtained by Reason as a result of the state of Missouri's lawsuit against the Biden administration, reveal that the CDC had substantial influence over what users were allowed to discuss on Meta's platforms: Facebook and Instagram.


[I]n May 2021, CDC officials began routinely vetting claims about COVID-19 vaccines that had appeared on Facebook. The platform left it up to the federal government to determine which assertions were accurate.

Facebook's moderator notes that some of the [claims flagged by the government for review] "would already be violating"--an implicit admission that the CDC's opinion on the other claims would be a deciding factor in whether the platform would restrict such content. Facebook was clearly a willing participant in this process; moderators repeatedly thanked the CDC for its "help in debunking."

Claims vetted by the CDC included whether "COVID-19 is man-made." The CDC told Facebook that it was "theoretically possible, but extremely unlikely."

For months, it was Meta policy to prohibit users from asserting that the pandemic may have originated from a lab leak....

By July 2021, the CDC wasn't just evaluating which claims it thought were false, but whether they could "cause harm."

[I]n November, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for children to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. Meta proudly informed the CDC that it would remove false claims--"i.e. the COVID vaccine is not safe for kids"--from Facebook and Instagram. Meta also provided the CDC with a list of new claims about vaccines and asked whether the government thought they could "contribute to vaccine refusals."

Once again, asking the government -- its superior, its boss -- whether or not it should censor citizen speech.

...

It's important to consider the ramifications. Meta gave the CDC de facto power to police COVID-19 misinformation on the platforms; the CDC took the position that essentially any erroneous claim could contribute to vaccine hesitancy and cause social harm.

Meta also thought the CDC should know that people were making fun of Anthony Fauci.

Meta also kept the CDC apprised of criticism of Anthony Fauci, the White House's COVID-19 advisor and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). One email warned the CDC that Facebook users were mocking Fauci for changing his mind about masking and double-masking. The CDC replied that this information was "very helpful."

Why was this relevant? Perhaps making fun of Anthony Fauci, who Represents Science, "caused harm" and increased vaccine hesitancy as well?

Robbie Soave, though a doctrinaire Muh Corporations libertarian, is honest enough to note that while Meta was being so very helpful to the federal government, their helpfulness might have been prompted by duress: The government was threatening them weekly with punitive regulation if they did not censor speech as the government demanded.

White House communications director Kate Bedingfield says social media 'should be held accountable' for publishing vaccine misinformation and is 'reviewing' Section 230 amid Biden's spat with Facebook

* White House comms director Kate Bedingfield said social media companies should be held accountable for publishing misleading info on vaccine

* She also said the administration is reviewing Section 230

* Section 230 gives tech companies blanket legal protections for content posted on their platforms

* 'We're reviewing that and certainly they should be held accountable,' she said

David French, who is totally not an undisclosed paid lobbyist and soulless shill for Monopoly Tech, calls this mere "jawboning" by the government and chides anyone who thinks this is a case of the government drafting Muh Corporations into the position of government agents that "the government has robust free speech rights too."

Unlike citizens!

Weird, David French is always telling us it's corporations and the government who have free speech rights, while the people actually granted free speech rights by the Constitution -- that is, people -- don't.

He was just hired as a columnist for the New York Times so you know his ethics are impeccable.

Oh, and you also know his credentials as a True Conservative are impeccable as well.


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posted by Ace at 01:48 PM

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