New Documents Expose Government Censorship Efforts at Facebook and WhatsApp
New emails uncovered in the ongoing Missouri v. Biden litigation reportedly show that the Biden Administration’s censorship efforts extended to Facebook to censor private communications on its WhatsApp messaging service. In recent months, the Twitter Files revealed an extensive and secret effort by the FBI and other agencies to censor citizens on social media. I testified on that effort. Democratic members oppose efforts to investigate the full scope of this effort and even denounced those calling for greater transparency as “Putin lovers” and apologists for insurrectionists and racists. Yet, the evidence of an extensive censorship and blacklisting effort by the Administration continues to mount.
Facebook (now known as Meta) is accused of working with the government to target citizens with dissenting views on Covid and the pandemic.
According to emails obtained through discovery, Biden’s Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty pressed Facebook executives to be more aggressive with censorship. Flaherty reportedly objected that “I care mostly about what actions and changes you’re making to ensure you’re not making our country’s vaccine hesitancy problem worse…I still don’t have a good, empirical answer on how effective you’ve been at reducing the spread of vaccine-skeptical content and misinformation to vaccine fence sitters.”
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote that the congressionally created, federally funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) had supported blacklisting efforts at the British-based Global Disinformation Index (GDI). The index was widely ridiculed for targeting ten conservative and libertarian sites as the most dangerous sources of disinformation; it sought to persuade advertisers to withdraw support for those sites, while listing their most liberal counterparts as among the most trustworthy.
At the time, I noted that the Biden administration had played us for chumps. As we celebrated the demise of the infamous Disinformation Governing Board with its “Disinformation Nanny,” the Biden administration never disclosed a larger censorship program.
Shortly after my column posted in The Hill, the NED wrote to me to say that it was discontinuing support for the GDI. Microsoft also was forced into retreat after it was shown to be pushing the GDI’s biased blacklist.
Then we learned of additional funding going through the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC).
We also know of backchannel communications with the CDC and other agencies.
It is assumed that the comprehensive effort to censor was not limited to Twitter. This is another indication of such efforts with Facebook. However, the Democratic leadership has opposed such an investigation for years. They have even refused to accept the email evidence. When I testified on the Twitter Files, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) criticized me for offering “legal opinions” without actually working at Twitter. As I have noted, it is like saying that a witness should not discuss the contents of the Pentagon Papers unless he worked at the Pentagon. It was particularly bizarre because I was asked about the content of the Twitter Files. The content — like the content of the Pentagon Papers — are “facts.” The implication of those facts are opinions.
Members like Wasserman Schultz will likely continue to refuse to acknowledge these new emails. However, the public has repeatedly shown in polls that they want transparency on the censorship efforts. The House may be able to guarantee that transparency as its need continues to rise with new evidence of the government’s efforts to silence dissenting views on social media.
Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org.