It looks like the White House is not done with trying to coerce Big Tech platforms to step up their censorship efforts. In the latest development, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy demanded that major online platforms turn over data related to the “major sources of COVID-19 misinformation” according to The New York Times.
From the report:
President Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday formally requested that the major tech platforms submit information about the scale of Covid-19 misinformation on social networks, search engines, crowdsourced platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems.
A request for information from the surgeon general’s office demanded that tech platforms send data and analysis on the prevalence of Covid-19 misinformation on their sites, starting with common examples of vaccine misinformation documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Murthy’s notice demands that social media companies provide information on “exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of Covid-19 misinformation” and to compile data on demographics that could have been disproportionately impacted by faulty information on the pandemic. He also requested details regarding the most significant sources of misinformation.
“Technology companies now have the opportunity to be open and transparent with the American people about the misinformation on their platforms,” Dr. Murthy said in the statement, which he sent by email. He added: “This is about protecting the nation’s health.”
Murthy gave the companies a May 2 deadline to provide the data. However, “[d]enying requests for information does not carry a penalty,” according to The New York Times. About six months ago, the surgeon general criticized Big Tech for not censoring viewpoints on COVID-19 that were not Democrat-approved. He referred to the spread of “misinformation” as “an urgent threat to public health.”
While this is the surgeon general’s first time demanding such information, it is not the first time the Biden administration has used its position to pressure social media companies to censor information being disseminated on their platforms. Last year, President Joe Biden found himself embroiled in a public spat with Facebook after he insinuated their failure to adequately censor certain viewpoints on the pandemic was “killing people.”
While Murthy’s demands are not enforceable, the fact that the administration is going this far in trying to coerce private companies to share this type of information reveals they might not be above using the power of the federal government to get what they want. Indeed, if the Democrats’ hold over Congress were any stronger, we would likely be seeing legislation designed to grant the state more authority to compel Big Tech companies to increase their censorship efforts. This is yet another reason why it is important for the GOP to retake both chambers of Congress in November. Otherwise, this scenario could become a reality sooner than we think.