Emails obtained by a Reason Magazine editor show that the CDC pressured Facebook to censor what it claimed was medical misinformation.
- Twitter CEO Elon Musk and several investigative journalists led by Matt Taibbi continue to release weekly segments of “The Twitter Files,” revealing information about how the previous owners of Twitter censored political opposition and collaborated with the U.S. government to silence accounts critical of specific organizations or individuals.
- On Thursday, January 19, Taibbi shared a post from Reason senior editor Robby Soave about the “Facebook Files.”
- A full writeup of the Facebook Files will be published in the March 2023 edition of Reason Magazine.
- Soave claims that emails he has access to show social-media networks like Facebook were being pressured by the government to censor content.
- “The theory is that the combination of direct influence and pressure from government officials, in conjunction with explicit threats from politicians, illegally violates free speech rights,” says Soave.
- See our previous coverage on Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3-5, Part 6, Part 7, Parts 8-10, Parts 11-12, Part 13, Part 14, and Part 15.
Why It’s Important
There have been multiple attempts by random Twitter users to latch onto the Twitter Files phenomenon, but most of these have been speculative copycats. Taibbi is the best source for any notable canon of what is or isn’t legitimate access to Twitter’s records. Soave’s claims are supported by Part IX, which shows that every social media network works as a government subsidiary.
“Most people don’t appreciate the significance of the point Matt was making: Every social media company is engaged in heavy censorship, with significant involvement of and, at times, the explicit direction of the government. Google frequently makes links disappear, for example,” says Musk.
Breaking Down the Facebook Files
As Soave alleges, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collaborated extensively with Facebook, consulting heavily about what narratives and facts should or shouldn’t be allowed to increase on the website. The platform allowed the federal government to determine the accuracy of medical claims and then enforced those decisions through its moderators.
“Facebook was clearly a willing participant in this process; moderators repeatedly thanked the CDC for its ‘help in debunking.’ Claims vetted by the CDC included whether ‘COVID-19 is man-made.’ The CDC told Facebook that it was ‘theoretically possible, but extremely unlikely.’ By July 2021, the CDC wasn’t just evaluating which claims it thought were false, but whether they could “cause harm,” says Soave.
“Meta gave the CDC de facto power to police COVID misinfo on the platforms; the CDC took the position that essentially any erroneous claim could contribute to vaccine hesitancy and cause social harm. This was a recipe for vast silencing, at the feds’ implicit behest.”
Meta went as far as to take new claims and theories that were forming on Facebook to the CDC. The platform’s deferral reportedly provided the CDC with the newest criticisms of then Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci, which the CDC confirmed was “very helpful.”
“White House staffers castigated Meta for not deplatforming alleged misinformation fast enough. President Joe Biden himself accused Facebook of ‘killing people’ in July 2021,” says Soave.