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White House bullied Facebook into censoring ‘anti-vax’ posts

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Facebook has become a mouthpiece of government and has ceased to be a free-speech platform, according to court papers that show it acquiesced to White House demands to censor ‘anti-vax’ posts during the Covid-19 epidemic.

The Meta platforms—which include Facebook and WhatsApp—and Google’s YouTube all bowed to White House pressure to ban posts that questioned the safety of Covid vaccines or government policy in general.

Emails from Rob Flaherty, the White House director of digital media, to Facebook executives have been published in the discovery phase of Missouri v Biden, a free-speech case brought by the Attorneys General of Missouri and Louisiana, and plaintiffs from the New Civil Liberties Alliance. 

Mr Flaherty’s relentless email campaign—to which Facebook eventually acquiesced—were later backed up by President Biden, who vowed to hold the social platforms accountable if they didn’t step up censorship against ‘anti-vax’ posts.  In a press conference, Mr Biden said the platforms were “killing people” by allowing the posts.

The plaintiffs argue that the US’s Constitution’s First Amendment “bars government from engaging in viewpoint-based censorship’.  The batch of emails demonstrate that the social media platforms were coerced into the censorship, and did not do so voluntarily, the plaintiffs add.

In a separate development, it’s been revealed that Pfizer—which manufactures the Covid mRNA vaccine—pressurised Twitter to censor a post that questioned the vaccine’s effectiveness, instead suggesting natural immunity was better.  Scott Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member and former head of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), contacted Twitter about the post, which put a ‘Misleading’ tag on it.

 

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References
Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2023; Daily Mail, January 10, 2023
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