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Sen. Blackburn demands Biden respond to ‘authoritarian’ censorship of speech on social media

Marsha Blackburn
Republican National Convention Committee on Resolutions Co-Chairman U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. |

Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaski’s revelation that the Biden administration is coordinating with social media platforms to determine which Americans and messages should be deplatformed is “deeply concerning.”

In a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday, Blackburn said the White House’s
oversight of social media posts it considers problematic or “disinformation” is alarming because having the government control the narrative on platforms such as Facebook is tantamount to censorship and violates citizens' First Amendment rights.

“These revelations are deeply concerning," Blackburn wrote in the letter to Biden. "The blatant actions by your administration to work with big tech companies to censor Americans’ free speech are shocking — and arguably a violation of the First Amendment.

"Communist countries such as Cuba are currently taking away their citizens’ right to use the
internet to communicate; the U.S. government should be standing up to, not looking to mirror,
authoritarian regimes such as these," the senator added. 

Blackburn also asked about the criteria used to flag and remove posts or ban users and the legal basis the Biden administration is using to order social media platforms to follow the administration’s guidance. She also asked if the administration has staff whose job it is to search social media to report people and messages they disagree with and get them kicked off the platforms they use. 

She requested to be briefed on this by Aug. 2. 

At White House Press Briefings on Thursday and Friday, Psaki said the federal government was coordinating with social media companies to make sure they are aware of the “latest narratives.”

"So we're regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives, dangerous to public health that we and many other Americans are seeing across all of social and traditional media," Psaki said Friday. "And we work to engage with them to better understand the enforcement of social media platform policies.”

In response, Blackburn said in a tweet on Monday that "Jen Psaki told the truth for once: Biden and Big Tech are censoring us."

Despite the administration’s coordination with social media giants, Biden accused Facebook of “killing people” by allowing what he deemed as vaccine misinformation. 

"They’re killing people," Biden responded to a reporter's question on Friday.

"The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people," he reiterated.

Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity, responded to Biden's accusation in a post on Saturday, titled “Moving Past the Finger Pointing,” and defended the various ways Facebook has responded to the pandemic and in vaccination efforts. 

“At a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in America, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies,” he wrote. 

“While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic,” he continued. “And facts — not allegations — should help inform that effort. The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the U.S. has increased. These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days.”

He shared how data show 85% of Facebook users in the U.S. have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which is above Biden’s goal of 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4 that the administration did not achieve. 

“Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed,” Rosen wrote.

On Monday, Biden clarified his comments that were perceived as an attack on social media, saying that Facebook is not, in fact, killing people. 

“Facebook isn’t killing people," Biden said, stressing that his comment wasn't a condemnation of social media platforms, but the people he accuses of disseminating disinformation. 

Biden added that he hopes Facebook will do more to fight “the outrageous misinformation” about coronavirus vaccines being spread on its platform “instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people.”

"These 12 people are out there giving misinformation, anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it,” he continued. “It’s killing people. It’s bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally ... that they would do something.

When he was asked if Facebook has done enough to combat misinformation, he said, “To be completely honest with you, I don’t know that they did anything today, up to over the weekend, I don’t think they had. But I don’t know."

Some have accused the Biden administration of using totalitarian measures in using social media to promote its message, as Big Tech censorship has led to various voices being banned from platforms in recent years.

“Biden is using Big Tech as an arm for his agenda,” Blackburn tweeted. “This is state-sponsored media.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the censorship from the administration is an effort to control.  

“The Biden administration just announced they are working with Facebook to censor more Americans,” McCarthy tweeted last week. “Big Tech and Big Government want the same thing → to control you. As a reminder, America is a land of FREEDOM.”

Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: emily.wood@christianpost.com

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