In a rather dramatic turn of events, social media company Facebook has become embroiled in a war of words with none other than Joe Biden and his administration. The confrontation flared up over a disagreement regarding the censorship of certain views related to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations. Last week, President Biden accused the company of “killing people” because it was not censoring enough opinions for his liking. Now, the company is firing back.
Facebook Takes on the White House
After Biden made headlines for attacking the social media company, Facebook lashed out in kind. An anonymous executive told NBC News that “the White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals.”
The executive was referring to Biden’s failure to get 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4. The response may be on point given the fact that the administration continues to have trouble persuading much of the country to take the jab.
Biden’s invective against the social media company came as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that the administration is “in regular touch” with Facebook about censoring opinions on COVID-19 that are not in line with the Democratic narrative. She also indicated that the White House is “flagging problematic posts” in an effort to persuade Facebook to suppress them.
The Facebook executive lashed out at U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who recently issued an advisory warning against “misinformation” being spread online about the pandemic. During a Thursday press conference, Murthy also criticized Facebook for not doing enough to silence people who disagree with the administration’s statements on the virus.
“In private exchanges the Surgeon General has praised our work, including our efforts to inform people about COVID-19,” the individual told NBC News. “They knew what they were doing.”
In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Murthy responded, claiming that he has been “very consistent” in what he has said to the Big Tech companies. He continued:
“And what I have effectively said is, when we see steps that are good, that are being taken, we should acknowledge those. And there have been some positive steps taken by the technology companies. Some of them have worked to try to up-promote accurate sources, like the CDC and other medical sources. Others have tried to reduce the prevalence of false sources in search results.”
The surgeon general claims that he told Facebook “publicly and privately” that its censorship efforts are “not enough.”
Will They Kiss and Make Up?
This particular feud is remarkable because Facebook and the Biden administration are already on the same page as far as censorship goes. The social media company has been throttling conservative content for years and has already stepped up its restrictive rules amid the pandemic. Perhaps the Facebook executive is right about Biden using the company to deflect from his administration’s failures.
But at some point, it seems likely that the White House and Facebook will put aside their differences when they remember they are on the same side. The Biden administration pressuring Facebook to censor opposing views is like trying to compel a lion to eat a zebra – not much effort is needed. But many who value free speech are worried about how much further this alliance will suppress certain voices online. After all, does it really make sense to assume they will stop with views on COVID-19?
Read more from Jeff Charles.