Newly released internal emails from Facebook and Twitter show an extensive effort to coordinate with the Biden administration to censor users, according to a Thursday release of information by GOP Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana.
Throughout the emails, officials within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) emailed Facebook and Twitter employees with instructions on flagging instances of alleged misinformation, and guided them with talking points to counter allegedly false narratives on the platforms.
In one instance, a CDC official asked Facebook for monthly meetings to plan "debunking" strategies, while in another case a White House official requested the removal of an Anthony Fauci parody account.
🚨 According to newly released emails obtained by state AGs, Facebook & the Biden admin arranged weekly/monthly calls to discuss what to censor on the platform.https://t.co/m8UKZEBby9 pic.twitter.com/u2RRDwcwAU— Vince Coglianese (@VinceCoglianese) September 1, 2022
"We have already received a number of documents that clearly prove that the federal government has an incestuous relationship with social media companies and clearly coordinate to censor freedom of speech, but we’re not done," said Schmitt in a joint statement. " The Department of Justice is cowering behind executive privilege and has refused to turn over communications between the highest-ranking Biden Administration officials and social media companies. That’s why, yesterday, we asked the Court to compel the Department of Justice to produce those records. We’re just getting started – stay tuned."
🚨In May, We filed a landmark lawsuit against top ranking Biden Admin. officials for colluding with social media companies to censor free speech. We have already received documents that show their cozy relationship, and now we’re demanding more. 🧵— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) September 1, 2022
More via AG Schmitt's Thursday release:
The communications already provided by the Department of Justice to the plaintiff states show, as the joint statement points out, a vast “Censorship Enterprise” across a multitude of federal agencies. In response to Missouri and Louisiana’s interrogatories, defendants identified 45 federal officials at DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General (all of which are contained in either DHS or HHS) that communicate with social media platforms about “misinformation” and censorship. The joint statement points out, “But in those responses, Defendants did not provide information about any federal officials at other federal agencies of whom they are aware who engage in such communications with social-media platforms about misinformation and censorship, though Plaintiffs had specifically asked for this highly relevant information. Defendants’ document production, however, reveals that such officials at other federal agencies exist—for example, their emails include extensive copying of officials at the Census Bureau, and they also include communications involving the Departments of Treasury and State.”
Beyond the Department of Justice’s production, “Meta, for example, has disclosed that at least 32 federal officials—including senior officials at the FDA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the White House—have communicated with Meta about content moderation on its platforms, many of whom were not disclosed in response to Plaintiffs’ interrogatories to Defendants. YouTube disclosed eleven federal officials engaged in such communications, including officials at the Census Bureau and the White House, many of whom were also not disclosed by Defendants.”
The same senior official sent a later email to HHS and noted, "Thanks again for taking the time to meet earlier today." Then, the official continued to discuss how Facebook is taking even more steps to censor freedom of speech https://t.co/gYz2RtXlNF pic.twitter.com/c9FqgKVtBe— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) September 1, 2022
The joint statement continues, “The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General; and evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. And it rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials. Defendants have objected to producing some of the most relevant and probative information in their possession.”
This “Censorship Enterprise” is proven by the Department of Justice’s productions thus far, but the full extent of federal officials’ collusion with social media companies on censorship is unknown until the Department of Justice produces further communications requested by Missouri and Louisiana.
A senior Facebook official sent an email to the Surgeon General stating, “I know our teams met today to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.” This email chain follows the SG’s “misinformation health advisory” in July 2021: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/hhs-fb-email-1.pdf?sfvrsn=53bc4454_2
The same senior official sent a later email to HHS and noted, "Thanks again for taking the time to meet earlier today." Then, the official continued to discuss how Facebook is taking even more steps to censor freedom of speech: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/hhs-fb-exhibit.pdf?sfvrsn=55bd83df_2
Twitter scheduled a meeting to debrief top White House officials on “vaccine misinformation.”: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/twitter-vaccine-meeting-wh.pdf?sfvrsn=6599e359_2b
There are several instances where Facebook wouldn’t proceed with censoring freedom of speech on their platform until they had input, or a “debunking” from the CDC. Twitter followed the same course in at least one email. pic.twitter.com/9alXrgvq6P— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) September 1, 2022
There are several instances where Facebook wouldn’t proceed with censoring freedom of speech on their platform until they had input, or a “debunking” from the CDC. Twitter followed the same course in at least one email.
- Example 1: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/fb-cdc-child-vaccine.pdf?sfvrsn=2f8960de_2
- Example 2: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/fb-cdc-omicron.pdf?sfvrsn=78eb53ec_2
- Twitter example: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/twitter--cdc-action.pdf?sfvrsn=12c0dc46_2
The CDC also proposed a monthly pre-debunking meeting with Facebook to help them censor free speech (https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/cdc-fb-monthly-debunk.pdf?sfvrsn=3508a21f_2) as well as regular “Be on the Lookout” calls with major social media outlets: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/cdc-bolo-meeting.pdf?sfvrsn=9a060658_2
A White House official was even concerned about parody Fauci accounts and coordinated with FB to take them down: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/fake-fauci.pdf?sfvrsn=a9d8f2bf_2