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Facebook Yields To Biden’s Request To Remove COVID-related Content, Despite Internal Dissent

Biden administration pressures Facebook to remove COVID content, sparking internal disagreement

The Biden administration reportedly asked Facebook to remove COVID-19-related content that fueled theories about the virus’ origin along with satirical content regarding the safety of vaccines.

What Happened: According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook gave into the administration’s many demands despite the fact that several executives had pushed back and claimed that Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t be on board with the concessions.

“I can’t see Mark in a million years being comfortable with removing that — and I wouldn’t recommend it,” the publication quoted Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs at the time, in an email regarding the Biden administration’s request to take down certain content about the vaccine.

According to The Wall Street Journal, additional emails reveal that several individuals within the company disagreed with content moderation requests from the Biden administration. Some executives reportedly expressed concerns that removing specific posts could fuel vaccine skepticism instead of mitigating it.

“There is likely a significant gap between what the WH would like us to remove and what we are comfortable removing,” the paper quoted an unnamed Facebook vice president.

“We were under pressure from the administration and others to do more,” The Wall Street Journal quoted a Facebook vice president in charge of content policy. “We shouldn’t have done it.”  

BRAZIL – 2023/07/07: In this photo illustration, the Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone screen. PHOTO BY RAFAEL HENRIQUE/GETTY IMAGES 

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee obtained the email, along with several other internal company communications, as part of its investigation into what GOP lawmakers believe is the Biden administration’s improper attempts to censor Americans’ speech on social media concerning COVID and various other subjects, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The outlet’s review of previously unreported emails dating back to the spring and summer of 2021 coincides with the White House’s extensive efforts to encourage nationwide Covid-19 vaccination. As part of the initiative, public and private endeavors were undertaken to prompt Facebook to adopt more stringent measures when monitoring vaccine-related content.

Earlier in 2021, the White House slammed Facebook, saying that the company was not doing enough to stop the spread of false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Following the allegations, Facebook said the company has since partnered with government experts, health authorities and researchers to take “aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines to protect public health.” 


Produced in association with Benzinga

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