Near the conclusion of a COVID-19 update he gave on Thursday, President Biden called for social media censorship of what he called “the misinformation and disinformation that’s on your shows.”
Biden stated, “There are others sitting on the sidelines, and worse, standing in the way. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it. Personal choice impacts us all, our hospitals, our country.”
“I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets — please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that’s on your shows,” he continued. “It has to stop. Covid-19 is one of the most formidable enemies America’s ever faced. We’ve got to work together, not against each other.”
Biden also boasted, “I’ve taken every action I can as president to require people to wear masks in federal buildings and on airplanes and trains …”
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Editorial Board reported in July 2021 that the Biden administration “broadcast that it is coordinating with the firms to remove content.” WSJ noted:
“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook, ” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday, referring to coronavirus misinformation. Meanwhile, the Surgeon General, an officer in the department of Health and Human Services, released a report with a page of suggestions on “what technology platforms can do” to crack down on certain information. The Verge reported that officials at Twitter “met with the surgeon general’s office on Monday to discuss its misinformation policies.”
Facebook released a statement to NBC News in response:
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.
Noting the Biden administration’s rhetoric, Jacob Sullum noted in The New York Post:
This censorship by proxy is especially troubling, because the “misinformation” that offends Biden and Murthy isn’t limited to verifiably false statements about COVID-19 vaccines, such as claims that they cause infertility or alter human DNA. It also includes messages that are accurate but “misleading,” which could mean they discourage vaccination by emphasizing small risks, noting that vaccines aren’t completely effective or raising questions about the methodology of vaccine studies.
In fact, the “health misinformation” that Murthy decries includes any statement about COVID-19 that he views as “misleading” in light of the “best available evidence,” which is open to interpretation and “can change over time.” If the Biden administration expects social-media platforms to enforce that hopelessly subjective standard, it is demanding unprecedented regulation of online speech that can’t possibly be reconciled with its avowed respect for freedom of expression.