‘Facebook Files’: Was the government pressuring Facebook to censor, too?

The Facebook Files appear to show government meddling to suppress speech on social media similar to what the Twitter Files revealed.

The Twitter Files, a news series covering the communications of Twitter’s former staff before Elon Musk took over, revealed that the federal government had worked in tandem with the platform to regulate and censor speech. Though largely ignored by the establishment press, the reports raised serious First Amendment concerns.

Many began to wonder if the government was also working with other social media companies to stamp out speech they didn’t like and direct state-approved public narratives.

You can stop wondering.

Reason’s Robby Soave published a story and a series of tweets on Thursday dubbed the “Facebook Files” in which he reports on communications within the social media company that appear to show a relationship between Facebook and the U.S. government similar to the one Twitter had.

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“According to a trove of confidential documents obtained by Reason, health advisers at the CDC had significant input on pandemic-era social media policies at Facebook as well,” Soave wrote. “They were consulted frequently, at times daily. They were actively involved in the affairs of content moderators, providing constant and ever-evolving guidance. They requested frequent updates about which topics were trending on the platforms, and they recommended what kinds of content should be deemed false or misleading.”

Soave cited particular emails, “Here are two issues we are seeing a great deal of misinfo on that we wanted to flag for you all,’ reads one note from a CDC official. Another email with sample Facebook posts attached begins: ‘BOLO for a small but growing area of misinfo.”

“These Facebook Files show that the platform responded with incredible deference,” he observed. 

There are numerous other examples of questionable government and Facebook interactions and Soave’s entire story is well worth your time.

Some dismissed the Twitter Files revelations as the government merely making requests of the company and the company complying. No big deal, right?

As Soave points out, this is a longstanding government tactic called “jawboning” and isn’t remotely as innocent as it might sound.

As BASEDPolitics’ Hannah Cox has explained, “Some on the Left have tried to dismiss this overt violation of basic human rights, claiming that a government agency ‘suggesting’ or ‘asking’ for accounts to be censored is different than ‘forcing’ them to be. That argument is utter hogwash. When an entity has the power to break up your company, fine or jail your owners, haul your employees in for investigations…their ‘suggestions’ are implied threats.” 

“If you don’t do what they say, you know what comes next,” Cox warned.

Though Soave and every reporter who covered the Twitter Files are credentialed and respected in their field—at least until the moment they diverge from establishment-think—I expect the Facebook Files will also receive little attention from the legacy press. (It’s not like the press should have any particular special interest in habitual assaults on the First Amendment or anything).

The reporters who have covered both the Twitter Files and now the Facebook Files come from across the political spectrum, but with reporting, that’s not really supposed to matter. It’s a ‘just the facts, ma’am’ gig. And that’s what they’ve done: Obtained, vetted, and shared the information they had.

Basic reporting.

But watch how many words will continue to be spoken and written about the supposed threat of domestic terrorists in the wake of January 6, 2021 by supposed serious journalists, while nary a peep from these supposed serious journalists about a very real, widespread and now, near-proven threat to Americans’ very first liberty as spelled out in the Bill of Rights.

A threat posed to every American who values their constitutional right to free speech by the most powerful entity in the entire world: The United States government.

Nope. Nothing to see here. Did you hear Trump might come back to Twitter? And Biden is ordering burgers!

Democracy dies in darkness.

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Jack Hunter
Jack Hunterhttp://LibertyTree.com
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the former politics editor for Rare.us.