Facebook had doubts about the accuracy of the Center For Countering Digital Hate’s (CCDH) report that President Joe Biden’s administration used to urge censorship on the platform, newly uncovered emails show.
CCDH’s “Disinformation Dozen” report, released in March 2021, purported to identify the “Twelve Leading Antivaxxers” who were allegedly the source of 65% of anti-vaccine content. The White House used the report to push Facebook to censor these accounts, despite the company’s concerns about its accuracy, according to emails obtained by the House Judiciary Committee.
The report asserts that the 12 individuals who make up the “Disinformation Dozen” are responsible for the majority of “anti‑vaccine content circulating on social media,” but Facebook stated it knew this was not true, according to the emails.
“It seems like the WH thinks if we just removed these 12 accounts, this would cause 65 percent of anti-vax misinformation to go away (‘there’s about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.’ If this were true, I would also want us to do this … but it unfortunately isn’t that simple,” a redacted Facebook employee’s email states.
Furthermore, Facebook worried the report’s inaccuracy could hurt efforts to solve the issue of COVID-19 misinformation.
“It seems like these data are now being used to guide major governmental policy decisions,” the email states. “If they are misleading or incorrect, that can be damaging to (our and their shared) efforts to arrive at productive and substantive solutions, so I think critical we establish some shared understanding of truth.” (RELATED: Professional Censors Are Furious That A Federal Court Stopped The Biden Admin From Suppressing Speech)
Facebook was stunned that the Biden White House seemed to actually believe the CCDH’s obviously false stat and was relying on these foreign activists’ “data” to “guide major governmental policy decisions.” pic.twitter.com/HY4LZD7U8j
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) September 5, 2023
Facebook also worried increasing censorship any further would mean suppressing information that is usually not false, as the report identified instances of vaccine hesitancy, according to another redacted email.
“To really push farther than what we have already done would likely be out of the misinfo realm, since vaccine hesitancy is often or mostly not misinfo,” the email stated.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted the company censored true or debatable information related to COVID-19 in a June episode of the “Lex Fridman Podcast.”
Moreover, former Biden Director of Digital Strategy Robert Flaherty suggested to Facebook that it “change the algorithm” to push corporate news outlets over conservative sources, according to documents reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation in August.
The report also prompted Twitter to censor the “Disinformation Dozen,” labeling tweets from seven of them as vaccine misinformation.
The White House, Facebook, Meta and CCDH did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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