Republicans in the House of Representatives sent a letter to Facebook requesting they turn over any communication between the social media giant and Dr. Anthony Fauci or other health officials.
The letter addressed to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, which was exclusively obtained by Fox Business Network, details the concerns of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees’ top Republican members, who worry that advice solicited from the government employee was used to censor certain speech regarding COVID-19 and its origins.
“These communications with Dr. Fauci raise the prospect that the federal government induced Facebook to censor certain speech in violation of the First Amendment,” the letter reads.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, explained the two possible scenarios that could have played out, as he sees it.
“There’s probably two explanations. Either Zuckerberg and Facebook was duped like so many Americans were and thought Dr. Fauci is the smartest man on the planet…or they were working with the government. And it seems to be more of the latter,” he told Fox Business.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 9, 2021
The most damning evidence of this, he says, is the squashing of debate around the origin of the COVID-19 infection, which may have prevented key pressure on government officials from taking different theories more seriously. The biggest example of this would be the initial censorship, then reconsideration of the Wuhan lab leak theory which is gradually gaining more credibility despite being dismissed as a conspiracy theory early on.
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, tried to explain away the nature of the communication between Facebook and Fauci, making it appear as though it was simply an effort to provide information directly to the masses.
Mark Zuckerberg shared with Dr. Fauci Facebook’s plans to launch a COVID-19 Information Center, a hub to make reliable resources and information about COVID-19 from government and health experts easily accessible on the platform.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) June 9, 2021
In the redacted part of the email, Zuckerberg told Dr. Fauci of our plan – which we’d described in our company blog weeks earlier – to share Facebook ad credits with government agencies to help them run coronavirus PSAs.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) June 9, 2021
But Jordan is maintaining that Fauci’s changes in position have consistently been reflected in Facebook’s policies about COVID-19 discussion.
“Dr. Fauci, once again has changed his position. So he’s saying, ‘Oh, well, there may be some credibility to looking at the lab, the origins of the virus from the lab,’” Jordan explained. “Whatever the government says, Facebook goes along with.”
He is also requesting that the full, unredacted versions of the emails be released by Facebook, provided that the communication wouldn’t reveal any trade secrets about the company. He reasoned that the emails between the “highest-paid official in our government” and “one of the biggest companies on the planet” should be made transparent for the people.
In emails obtained by Buzzfeed, Zuckerberg can be seen revealing the creation of a “Coronavirus Information Hub” and asking the doctor if he would be willing to participate and “help get your message out” to the people.
“Tony, I wanted to send a note of thanks for your leadership and everything you’re doing to make our country’s response to this outbreak as effective as possible,” Zuckerberg wrote in a communication in March 2020. “I also wanted to share a few ideas of ways we could help get your message out, but I understand you’re incredibly busy, so don’t feel a need to reply unless these seem interesting.”
“This isn’t public yet, but we’re building a Coronavirus Information Hub that we’re going to put at the top of Facebook for everyone (200+ million Americans, 2.5 billion people worldwide) with two goals: (1) make sure people can get authoritative information from reliable sources and (2) encourage people to practice social distance and give people ideas for doing this using internet tools,” he wrote.
That’s where Fauci comes in. The Facebook bigshot explained that he wanted a video of the doctor and other “experts rather than just a bunch of agencies and political leaders” as well as a potential Q&A video in the future. Fauci, never being one to turn down a camera, was of course interested.
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