Internal emails from Facebook and Instagram show that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had significant input on the Meta-owned social media platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Facebook Files released Thursday on Twitter.
Journalist Robby Soave revealed internal communications with the CDC and how the US agency tried to control the COVID vaccine narrative on both Facebook and Instagram.
“The CDC had significant input on pandemic-era policies at Meta,” tweeted Soave in a thread similar to the Twitter Files that have been previously released to the public. “The CDC was consulted frequently, at times daily, receiving constant updates about which topics were trending and giving recommendations on what content to flag as false or misleading.”
“Twitter is not the only social media site to face pressure to censor content,” he added.
“In May 2021, CDC officials began routinely vetting claims about COVID-19 vaccines that had appeared on Facebook. The platform left it up to the federal government to determine which assertions were accurate,” said Soave. “Claims vetted by the CDC included whether ‘COVID-19 is man-made.’ The CDC told Facebook that it was ‘theoretically possible, but extremely unlikely.'”
“Facebook was clearly a willing participant in this process,” Soave continued. “Moderators repeatedly thanked the CDC for its ‘help in debunking.’ By July 2021, the CDC wasn’t just evaluating which claims it thought were false, but whether they could ‘cause harm.’”
Soave went on to detail that Meta worked hand-in-hand with the CDC when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency authorization for children to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine.
“Meta proudly informed the CDC that it would remove false claims—’i.e. the COVID vaccine is not safe for kids’—from FB and Insta,” Soave explained. “Meta also provided the CDC with a list of new claims about vaccines and asked whether the government thought they could ‘contribute to vaccine refusals.'”
Soave also revealed that the CDC was “not the only arm of the federal government engaged in this work.”
“White House staffers castigated Meta for not deplatforming alleged misinformation fast enough,” he added. “President Joe Biden himself accused Facebook of ‘killing people’ in July 2021.”
“What’s at stake is the future of free speech in the technological age,” said attorney Jenin Younes, who Soave interviewed. “We’ve never had a situation where the federal government at very high levels is coordinating or coercing social media to do its bidding.”
Soave concluded his post by saying it was important to “uncover censorship at Twitter.”
“It’s clear the same forces were conspiring to silence dissent at Meta as well,” he said.
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