UPDATED 3:01 PM PT – Friday, July 16, 2021
The White House announced their efforts with Facebook to take aggressive action on problematic social media posts. The administration said they would work to flag and censor anything they deemed to be disinformation about COVID-19.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy announced his advisory on the dangers of health misinformation, which he called a “public health threat.”
“Today, the Rockefeller Foundation is announcing a 13.5 million dollar commitment to counter health misinformation,” he announced “The digital public library of America is announcing that they will convene a set of librarians, scholars, journalists and civic leaders to confront health misinformation together.”
Today, the @Surgeon_General classified health misinformation as a public health crisis. We agree. That’s why @RockefellerFdn is committing $13.5M to fight back against global #Covid19 vaccine mis- and disinformation. Read about our commitment: https://t.co/Vk58nSdf04 https://t.co/YJYSv33vmR
— Dr. Bruce Gellin (@DrBGellin) July 15, 2021
Murthy called on tech companies to ramp up their efforts to monitor Americans and stop so-called misinformation “super-spreaders”.
“We expect more from our technology companies,” he asserted. “We’re asking them to operate with greater transparency and accountability. We are asking them to monitor misinformation more closely.”
Social media companies have been recommended by the administration to reduce the number of shares a post deemed false could receive. During a press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki asserted Facebook should utilize their algorithm process to promote what they believe to be true.
“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office,” she stated. “…We are also investing, as you all have seen, in the president’s, the vice president’s and Dr. Fauci’s time in meeting with influencers who also have large reaches to a lot of these target audiences who can spread and share accurate information.”
We must safeguard the freedom of speech by protecting social media users from being censored by Big Tech.
That’s why making censorship illegal is an emergency item for this Special Session.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 12, 2021
Psaki claimed there were 12 people who have provided 65 percent of vaccine misinformation online, which has drowned out other voices.
“There are also proposed changes we have made to social media platforms, including Facebook and those specifically, are four key steps,” she expressed. “One, that they measure and publicly share the impact of misinformation on their platform.”
The other steps include platforms enforcing rules as well as removing posts. These censoring measures come on the heels of Biden’s door-to-door campaign to increase vaccination rates in hesitant areas.
Of the many Republicans opposing the efforts, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said “a South Carolinian’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government’s.” He asserted pressuring people to get the vaccine was a bad policy.
A South Carolinian’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make. Enticing, coercing, intimidating, mandating, or pressuring anyone to take the vaccine is a bad policy which will deteriorate the public’s trust and confidence in the State’s vaccination efforts.
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) July 9, 2021
The Democratic National Committee, an ally to Biden, reportedly made plans to work with SMS carriers to monitor text messages and dispel misinformation about vaccines.
“If you send a text message to a friend or to a family member or to who ever and it includes whatever they deem as misinformation that somehow you’re going to get a message on your phone from the government,” David Rubin of the Rubin Report expressed. “That’s going to be in cahoots with the Democratic National Committee. What is going on here and who’s going to decide what misinformation is?”
Meanwhile, many critics call these plans an authoritarian form of spying that infringes on the first amendment.