Hot on the heels of White House press secretary Jen Psaki announcing that the administration is in contact with social media giants encouraging them to remove posts they deem to be against policy on COVID-19, President Joe Biden weighed in on the issue only to be met with derision from all sides. When asked by reporters if he had a message for “platforms like Facebook” about “COVID misinformation,” he said, “They’re killing people… The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”
Facebook was quick to respond with a statement of its own, detailing the massive censorship efforts it has undertaken in response to what it deems falsehoods. The tech company wrote:
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald responded to Biden’s words by asking a question of his own. He pondered, “Are social media companies also guilty of ‘killing people’ if they allow content encouraging people to be obese, to consume fatty junk food, content which glorifies cigarette smoking and large amounts of alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle?”
But others were not so oblique in their criticism. Senator Ron Johnson wrote that the president “is right about Big Tech’s role, he’s just pointing his finger at the wrong problem. It’s their suppression and censorship of early treatment that has cost lives. Social media should have been an open forum for solutions, instead it has become a tool for Big Brother.”
Don’t Need a Weatherman?
This is not the first occasion that Joe Biden has voiced his displeasure at social media companies. The Biden-Harris campaign released an open letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg demanding that he address “misinformation” and block political ads – specifically from then-President Trump. The campaign wrote, “We call for Facebook to proactively stem the tide of false information by no longer amplifying untrustworthy content and promptly fact-checking election-related material that goes viral.”
Apparently not satisfied with the ban of Trump from the platform, just a few days after the 2020 election in an interview with the New York Times, Biden said:
“I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem.”
He continued, saying that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should be “immediately” revoked and that “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company… It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”
Facebook banned Donald Trump from its platform; it blocked thousands of users who go against CDC and World Health Organization advice – even when that advice is contradictory and changeable. It seems that whatever efforts the tech giant makes will not be enough to satisfy an administration hell-bent on making it a mouthpiece for whatever cause the White House is focused on each week.
Jen Psaki summed up the administration’s attitude towards the idea of a free press and free-space platforms. She said, “We are regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives dangerous to public health that we and many other Americans are seeing across all of social and traditional media.”
Many would argue that the major social media companies have been more than supportive of the political left and President Biden in particular. From throttling information on Hunter Biden to just plain blocking content that is damaging to his administration. But now that POTUS has taken off the gloves, how long before the Silicon Valley denizens decide they may have facilitated a harbinger of their own demise?
Read more from Mark Angelides.