White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the Biden administration has been flagging “problematic” posts for Facebook moderators that contain misinformation.
The Biden administration on Thursday ramped up its campaign against coronavirus misinformation with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issuing an advisory calling online misinformation a “serious threat to public health.”
"Health misinformation is an urgent threat to public health. It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic," Murthy said in a statement. "As Surgeon General, my job is to help people stay safe and healthy, and without limiting the spread of health misinformation, American lives are at risk. From the tech and social media companies who must do more to address the spread on their platforms, to all of us identifying and avoiding sharing misinformation, tackling this challenge will require an all-of-society approach, but it is critical for the long-term health of our nation."
White House “flagging posts”:
After Murthy’s advisory, Psaki told reporters that the White House has been working with Facebook to moderate coronavirus misinformation.
“We are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team — given as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue, of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic,” she said.
“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s Office. We are flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” she continued, adding that “it’s important to take faster action against harmful posts … and Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts.”
GOP critics cry foul:
Republican lawmakers criticized the relationship between the White House and the social media giant after the news briefing.
“I think it’s really scary to have the federal government of the United States, the White House, compiling lists of people, organizations, whatever, and then going to a private company that, by the way, is a monopoly, Facebook, and saying, ‘You need to censor. You need to do something about this. You need to tell these users, these private users on a private company what they can or cannot say,'” Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News.
“These are state-controlled-media tactics we rightfully condemn in dictatorships,” tweeted Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie. “If an administration has a message to get out, let them express it. But when the government works to throttle speech with which they disagree, it has crossed a line.”
“Big Government is colluding with Big Tech to censor speech,” said Colorado Rep. Ken Buck.