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The Morning Rant: Minimalist Edition | Main | After Every Major Break in the Hunter/Joe Biden Corruption Investigation, Partisan Witch-Hunter Jack Smith Has Dropped an Indictment of Trump the Next Day
August 03, 2023

"Jawboning:" Biden's White House Pushed FaceBook to Rig Its Algorithm To Suppress Conservative News Sites, and Boost Liberal Ones

Just some "jawboning," David French calls it. The government has first amendment rights too, he says, and the government's first amendment rights (which are not mentioned in the Constitution) prevail among the citizenry's first amendment rights (which are mentioned in the Constitution, somewhat prominently).

Those of us who aren't being paid 30 pieces of silver to shill for the grotesque left call it "illegal and unconstitutional censorship by a rogue government."

The Biden White House inquired in meetings with Facebook executives asking whether Facebook could tweak its algorithm to showcase stories from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal over content posted by "polarizing" conservative journalists and commentators in early 2021, according to meeting notes the social media firm turned over to Congress that are alarming some constitutional lawyers. The alleged focus of the meetings was to assist the administration while it struggled to combat COVID vaccine hesitancy.

Note that the Wall Street Journal is itself a liberal "news" source. People call the editorial page, the opinion page, of the Wall Street Journal "conservative." Or, rather, "Establishment, corporate open borders 'conservative.'" The news side of the WSJ is unabashedly leftwing.

The memos, reviewed by Just the News, chronicle a series of meetings between White House digital director Rob Flaherty and executives from Facebook, now known as Meta, in spring 2021 as the first questions about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccine began surging on social media.

The memos delivered recently under subpoena to the House Judiciary Committee make clear the White House was actively interacting with Facebook, and sometimes pressuring the social media giant to moderate content in a way that would encourage more Americans to get inoculations.

President Joe Biden would eventually mandate such shots for many Americans, though he was reversed by the courts and Congress.

On April 14, 2021, for instance, the White House's Flaherty asked Facebook whether it could promote The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal over The Daily Wire and Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren, according to Facebook meeting documents obtained by Just the News.

"Asked."

As I have repeatedly said, FaceBook, Google, and Twitter are tolerated monopolies who could and should be broken up or limited by the government, and would be if we weren't living in the worst of all possible worlds, a Corporate Marxist regime. Their existence is precarious; they depend on the government continuing its corporatist policy of permitting them to continue being monopolies and using that monopoly power to strangle competition. (Witness these companies ganging up to deplatform Parler.)

The government isn't "asking" these companies for shit. It's instructing them what they are required to do to maintain their current status as tolerated monopolies, and not become un-tolerated monopolies.

Flaherty asked Facebook employees "If you were to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people. You wouldn't have a mechanism to check the material impact?" according to Facebook's typewritten notes from the meeting.

Lahren had publicly announced she was choosing to skip taking the vaccine, and Daily Wire filed one of the landmark lawsuits challenge Biden's mandate that companies force their employees to get the shots as a term of keeping their jobs.

Prior to Flaherty's question, he discussed COVID vaccine hesitancy with Facebook employees during the meeting, asking what the company was doing about it.

"We have to explain to President, Ron, people, why there is misinfo on the internet, bigger problem than FB," Flaherty was quoted as saying. "Where issues are, what interventions are, how well they are working, for products, want to engage in things that you know to be effective. I don't even care about specific methodology, you have better, richer data than we'll ever have.

...

Flaherty is cited in the notes as asking the questions "because candidly there is not a lot of trust towards FB" and the Biden White House wanted to know whether the platform was "finding things that are effective that you aren't doing" to combat resistance to the vaccines.

In other words: "FaceBook may lose its indulgences as a government-tolerated monopoly if they do not obey these government directives."

Ben Shapiro says he might sue. He must sue. THIS WILL NOT STOP UNTIL CENSORSHIP AND COOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT TO SUPPRESS FREE SPEECH CARRIES CASH-MONEY CONSEQUENCES MEASURED IN THE TENS OF MILLIONS.

...

Constitutional law professors denounced the White House's actions outlined in the new memos obtained by Just the News, saying they smacked of censorship and raised serious First Amendment issues.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Just the News on Wednesday, "This is why I have asked Congress to pass a law barring federal employees from engaging in censorship and targeting of citizens. Agencies have a right to speak in their own voices. Instead, the Biden Administration sought to engage in what I have called 'censorship through surrogate.' This is part of that pattern."

Normally, private companies cannot be held accountable for First Amendment violations, however the law provides an exception when a private entity is acting "under color of law." University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds told Just the News on Wednesday that the First Amendment issue is when the "government is asking people to censor speech, their action is attributable to the government, so both they and the government can be sued."

He believes that The Daily Wire and Lahren could "and probably should" sue the federal government and Facebook over the censorship.

Reynolds notes that these so-called "private companies" do not have, as the federal government does, sovereign immunity.

And of course the White House was pressuring FaceBook to censor true information as well. (Though it does not matter if the censored material is true or false for purposes of the First Amendment -- because, shall the government be our arbiter of truth? Men can speak whatever they think to be the truth, even if they are wrong.)

But they can't even claim they were just demanding censorship of "misinformation." They wanted the true stuff taken down most of all, because truth is the most convincing argument against a tyrant.

Facebook took steps to suppress true information or mere opinions about vaccines to avoid a "vaccine negative environment," according to internal company occupations viewed by Fox Business.

On a July 2021 call between Facebook employees and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's Office, a Facebook employee explained they were combating misinformation, but also working to contain information they admitted was "not false."

Facebook told the Surgeon General's office they instituted "borderline demotions" for someone sharing "negative side effect posts" or even "posts questioning whether you should get a vaccine under a mandate, whether it's government overreach. We demote those. That's not false information, but it leads to a vaccine negative environment."

The Biden White House didn't want just true content restrained, however; even memes irked them.

In an email, Facebook's then-VP of Global Affair Nick Clegg discussed with his team a call he had with Andy Slavitt, President Biden's White House senior adviser for the COVID response. Clegg said of Slavitt, "he was outraged -- not too strong a word to describe his reaction -- that we did not remove this post" pointing to a meme about vaccine side effects.

A Facebook employee acknowledged demoting posts that created what they called a "vaccine negative environment." (Kurt Knutsson)

The meme in question used the popular image of Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at his TV, with the text, "10 years from now you will be watching TV and hear, 'Did you or a loved one take the covid vaccine? You may be entitled...'", a riff on commercials often seen for class-action lawsuits.

Clegg continued, "I countered that removing content like that would represent a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression in the US, but he replied that the post was directly comparing Covid vaccines to asbestos poisoning in a way which demonstrably inhibits confidence in Covid vaccines amongst those the Biden administration is trying to reach."

The White House and Meta didn't reply to requests for comment.

Jim Jordan just released The FaceBook Files, Part 3.

Some major points:

Rep. Jim Jordan @Jim_Jordan 20m In 2021, the White House wanted to control what narratives and true content was posted on Facebook surrounding #COVID19.

President Biden went so far to say that Facebook was "killing people" for allowing certain statements to be published on the site.

Rob Flaherty, President Biden's then-Director of Digital Strategy, repeatedly put pressure on Facebook to explain its content decisions.

"We have to explain to President, Ron, people, why there is misinfo on the internet..."

For example, Flaherty questioned whether Facebook was doing enough to reduce traffic from sites like the @nypost
.

"I'm curious -- NY Post churning out articles every day... What is supposed to happen to that from Policy perspective. Does that article get a reduction, labels?"

But that wasn't enough for the Biden White House. Flaherty wanted Facebook to go a step further.

He wanted Facebook to kick people off its site.

The Biden White House's effort to censor opposing viewpoints only grew.

So, they upped the pressure.

Flaherty demanded that Facebook "play ball" and work with the Biden White House on censorship.

He called it his "dream."

You know who else had a dream?

He recounts the White House demanding censorship of the Daily Wire, which I've noted above.

...

And of course, Facebook caved.

The company ADMITTED to the White House that it reduced content of certain posts -- even if the posts didn't violate the company's terms and contained TRUE information.

He has supporting documents in the thread.


digg this
posted by Ace at 12:00 PM

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