The Biden administration is going full steam ahead on its effort to pressure Facebook and other social media companies to censor content that they deem to be “misinformation.” After a week of controversy over the White House’s admission that it is pressuring Big Tech to suppress opinions on the COVID-19 outbreak and the vaccine, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday doubled down on his contention that certain opinions on the pandemic are placing American lives in danger.
During a conversation on CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning, Murthy doubled down on his contention that Facebook should be doing more to silence opinions on the coronavirus that are not in line with the left’s approved narrative. The social media company has become embroiled in a tete a tete with the Biden administration over its moderation of content.
A Facebook executive recently implied that Murthy was being duplicitous, blasting the company publicly after having told them they were doing a good job privately. On Sunday, he responded to the accusation:
“Well, I have been very consistent in what I have said to the technology companies that I have spoken with, a number of them, over the last many months, and my team has as well.
“And what I have effectively said is, when we see steps that are good, that are being taken, we should acknowledge those. And there have been some positive steps taken by the technology companies. Some of them have worked to try to up-promote accurate sources, like the CDC and other medical sources. Others have tried to reduce the prevalence of false sources in search results.”
Murthy continued, noting that he told Facebook “publicly and privately” that their efforts are “not enough.”
During a press conference last Thursday Murthy discussed his advisory warning about the spread of supposed “misinformation” regarding the coronavirus pandemic. During the press briefing, the surgeon general pointed out that Americans live “in a world where misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health.”
After President Joe Biden accused Facebook of “killing people” due to its failure to adequately filter out certain opinions on the virus, another executive struck back, accusing the administration of using the company as a “scapegoat” for its inability to meet its deadline of having 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by the Fourth of July. When asked about this exchange, Murthy said that he has “been consistent from the beginning,” and that the administration “saw misinformation flowing around COVID-19 from the beginning.”
The White House official stated that he was concerned that they are “not seeing nearly enough progress here” and that “it’s not entirely about the tech companies.” He urged individuals to “pause and to see” whether a specific source is accurate before sharing it on social media.
“Each of us has a decision that we make every time we post something on social media. And I’m asking people to pause and to see, is a source accurate? Is it coming from a scientifically credible authority? And if it’s not, or if you’re not sure, don’t share.”
CNN host Dana Bash also asked the surgeon general if he believes conservative media outlets like Fox News is killing people. Murthy appeared to dance around the question, saying that everyone has “a responsibility to share the truth about health, as science dictates, as science informs us.”
“People deserve to have access to accurate information. They deserve to hear that from their leaders. They deserve to hear that from the media. They deserve to see that on platforms online. And that — they need that information to be able to make decisions to protect themselves and their families. That’s the least we can do for them. And my worry is that all this misinformation that’s floating around is having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost. And that is just tragic.”
The problem with Murthy’s arguments and the statements coming from the White House are obvious. The administration is claiming to crack down on “misinformation” ostensibly to save lives. But we have already seen that when you open the Leftist Dictionary and look up the word “misinformation,” the definition is: “Anything with which we disagree.”
This is no small matter.
The executive branch of the federal government of the United States of America is literally trying to coerce a private business to censor content that disagrees with its narrative. As I’ve written previously, we cannot make the mistake of assuming that if the Democrats get their way, they will not stop with the COVID-19. Indeed, regardless of their intentions, conservatives and others who value the spirit of the First Amendment need to view this as a test run.
If the Biden administration successfully compels Facebook and other Big Tech entities to step up their already-biased, censorship practices in this matter, what is to stop them from expanding their focus to other areas? It is already obvious that this is yet another effort to suppress conservative thought online and not a campaign to save lives. The question is: Where will this uneasy alliance lead?