The White House press secretary Jen Psaki has made a startling admission at a press briefing on Thursday that the US government is actively coordinating with Facebook to flag the posts of United States citizens for being “problematic” and containing COVID-19 “misinformation.”
The admission has raised First Amendment free speech rights implications, particularly as previous lawsuits that have accused Facebook and the government of working together to censor online content have been dismissed due to a judge finding “lack of evidence.”
Psaki’s admission could open the doors to finding that evidence.
“Can you talk a little bit more about this request for tech companies to be more aggressive in policing misinformation? Has the administration been in touch with any of these companies? And are there any actions that the Federal Government can take to ensure their cooperation? Because we’ve seen from the start, there’s not a lot of action on some of these platforms,” Psaki was asked.
“Well, first, we are in regular touch with the social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 Team,” Psaki announced. “Given as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation specifically on the pandemic. In terms of actions that we have taken or we’re working to take, I should say, from the Federal Government, we’ve increased disinformation research and tracking. Within the Surgeon General’s Office, we are flagging posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.
Paski continued: “It’s important to take faster action against harmful posts. As you all know, information travels quite quickly on social media platforms. Sometimes it’s not accurate, and Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts. Posts that would be within their policies for removal often remain up for days. That’s too long. The information spreads too quickly.”