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White House is working with Facebook to flag ‘disinformation,’ Psaki admits

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the White House is not only working with Facebook to flag disinformation on vaccines — it’s also asking Facebook to share data on the reach and engagement of posts deemed disinformation.
  • “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” the White House press secretary said.
  • Facebook was one of several social media platforms that attempted to suppress discussion of the theory that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab, calling such discussion misinformation. Evidence has since been uncovered suggesting the theory holds merit. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the White House is not only working with Facebook to flag disinformation on vaccines — it’s also asking Facebook to share data on the reach and engagement of posts deemed disinformation.

“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” the White House press secretary said.

Facebook, which did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation, was one of several social media platforms that attempted to suppress discussion of the theory that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab. Evidence has since been uncovered suggesting the theory holds merit.

Senior Biden administration staff and members of the COVID-19 team are targeting misinformation, specifically on coronavirus vaccines and the pandemic, by keeping “in regular touch” with social media platforms, Psaki said Thursday.

The Biden administration has also proposed four key requests to social media platforms, Psaki said: the first, that social media platforms “measure and publicly share the impact of misinformation on their platform.”

“Facebook should provide, publicly and transparently, data on the reach of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, not just engagement, but the reach of the misinformation and the audience that it’s reaching,” Psaki said. “That will help us ensure we’re getting accurate information to people. This should be provided not just to researchers but to the public so that the public knows and understands what is accurate and inaccurate”

The Biden administration also wants platforms like Facebook to “create a robust enforcement strategy that bridges their properties and provides transparency about the rules,” to take “faster action against harmful posts,” and to promote “quality information sources in their feed algorithm.”

“There’s about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” Psaki said. “All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including Facebook, ones that Facebook owns.”

It is not immediately clear who the 12 individuals are.

“Facebook has repeatedly shown that they have the levers to promote quality information,” Psaki added. “We have seen them effectively do this in their algorithm over low quality information and they’ve chosen not to use it in this case and that is certainly an area that would have an impact.”

WATCH:

The press secretary’s revelations follow many instances of social media platforms censoring political figures and content.

Facebook suppressed a New York Post story in February 2020 that called the lab leak hypothesis “a possibility.” Facebook called the post “False Information” and would not unblock the post until April 2020, the Post reported.

Twitter locked the New York Post out of its Twitter account in October after the publication published a report on emails allegedly showing that Hunter Biden and his father, then-president-elect Joe Biden, met with an executive from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2015.   

Twitter also censored the story on its platform, prevented users from tweeting or sending the link, and locked the accounts of a number of high-profile Twitter users, such as former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who attempted to post the link.

The company has previously defended its rationale for censoring information.

During a late October hearing on Twitter’s moderation practices following its decision to suspend the New York Post, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that Holocaust denials are not considered misinformation and added that Holocaust denials also do not fit under Twitter’s three categories of misinformation.

Both Facebook and Twitter also repeatedly censored former President Donald Trump’s tweets and posts during the 2020 presidential election.

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Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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