Sirwin
Sirwin

Jen Psaki's Bizarre Admission of Government Involvement in Facebook

By LateToTheParty | Late to the Pol | 21 Jul 2021


Introduction: Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

From Kamala Harris admitting during her Central America trip that she had not yet been to the border, i.e. "We're going to the border", to Joe Biden giving Vladmir Putin a list of 16 critical facilities that should not be hacked, the Biden administration has this unusual way of saying the quiet part out loud. On top of that, the administration along with the mainstream media has been trying to gaslight the American people regarding topics like the Cuban protests and inflation.

On July 15, 2021, Press Secretary Jen Psaki managed to outdo all of that with a clear cut admission that the Biden administration is flagging "problematic" posts for Facebook to crack down on medical "disinformation".



Looks like the audience isn't having it based on the like/dislike ratio...


I don't know about you, but this gives me a bunch of CCP vibes. If you don't know, the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party is infamous for its censorship on social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo. For instance, the CCP was extremely unhappy when Chinese citizens expressed their skepticism on the CCP's account of the Galwan incident between the PLA and Indian soldiers and tried to crack down the posts.

One may rebut that the American government is nothing like the CCP and is much more benevolent as it's trying to crack down on medical "disinformation". However, I do not find this to be a compelling argument for multiple reasons. Enforcement is not consistent, goalposts constantly move, and this crackdown likely violates the First Amendment.

Inconsistent Enforcement

Allison Morrow, a former TV news reporter and currently an independent journalist, uploaded a video on July 8 showing YouTube's inconsistency of enforcement of its COVID medical misinformation rules.



She showed clips from outlets like NBC and CNN that either claim that masks are not effective at suppressing the spread of COVID or that COVID is not more deadly than the H1N1 flu virus. After that, she goes to YouTube's COVID medical misinformation rules and points out at the particular parts that the mainstream media's videos violate. Despite the fact that the outlets violated YouTube's rules, their videos are not taken down.

And it gets better, a few days later, YouTube suspends Allison's channel for... you guess it: medical misinformation. In sheer irony, the suspension of Allison's channel only served to prove her point. As her video contained minimal amounts of editorializing, if at all, YouTube indirectly admitted that NBC and CNN hosted medical "misinformation" content.



Her channel did eventually get restored, but only after YouTube received immense amounts of backlash.

Goalpost Moving

As pointed out by independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, the major flaw behind the Biden administration's crackdown on medical "disinformation" is how the goalposts for what counts as "disinformation" frequently shift:



You can check out the rest of Greenwald's thread on Twitter. It's a pretty good read.


At the beginning of 2020, there were a bunch of claims that later turned out to be incorrect such as the claim that COVID is not transmissible from human-to-human or that the virus did not leak from a lab. Greenwald aptly pointed out that all throughout 2020, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter would take down posts that suggested that the lab leak hypothesis had merit and suspend people's accounts. Heck, even the mainstream media jumped on the denial train and would label anyone who would dare to posit the theory as a complete nutter.

But all of a sudden in late May, the vehement dismissal stopped. Even Anthony Fauci, who initially denied the possibility, expressed openness to the hypothesis. And then, his emails revealed that he was took the lab leak hypothesis seriously the entire time and admitted that the NIH earmarked several hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Wuhan Intstitute of Virology via EcoHealth Alliance. In addition, Fauci predicted in January 2017 that under Trump's tenure, there would be a "surprise outbreak" and on December 2017, he lifted the federal ban on gain-of-function research.



A self-fulfilling prophecy?


While the mainstream social media platforms and media treated the lab leak hypothesis as if it was some crazy conspiracy theory, it turned out that there was a plethora of evidence that pointed towards plausibility. Ultimately, the crackdown on the lab leak hypothesis under the guise of stopping medical "disinformation" was really censorship of a credible theory. Very Big Brother-esque, eh?

Violation of the First Amendment?

On July 13, I wrote an article about the dangers of centralized social media, particularly on how they can become state actors. While it is true, on Psaki's admission, that the government and Facebook are colluding together to remove "problematic" posts, it would be extremely difficult to successfully sue Facebook on grounds of being a state actor. Lawyer Nick Rekieta explains why in a very succinct 1 minute video:



In other words, the state actor doctrine is very strict. It only applies if the "government employs a private person as an agent of the government to do something that is traditionally exclusively a government task". Censorship is not exclusive to the government as private companies do it, too.

To add on top of Rekieta's point, collusion does not necessarily mean employment. The way Psaki described how the Biden administration collaborates with Facebook to crack down on "disinformation" is more of a "wink wink, nudge nudge" sort of deal.

However, challenging Facebook on free speech grounds would hold more weight. Under the First Amendment, it states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. This means that outside of a few exceptions like defamation or threats of violence, the government cannot censor, jail, fine, or impose civil liability on people or entities for what they have said or written.

Some scholars argue that the First Amendment does not provide protections against private individuals or organizations. However, there is an arguable case that the collaboration between Biden administration and Facebook no longer makes the latter a fully private organization. While Facebook may hold the final say on whether a post flagged by the government should be removed or not, the government still played a non-zero role on affecting an individual's speech.

Closing Thoughts: Psaki, You're A Fool

There are several arguments, as I have presented, against the effectiveness and validity of the government telling Big Tech which posts constitute as "disinformation". Historically, enforcement of these medical misinformation rules have been inconsistent in a "Rules for thee, but not for me" sort of fashion. The goalposts of what is true information and what is misinformation have frequently shifted like with the COVID lab leak hypothesis. Lastly, as Facebook is not acting as a complete private entity in this scenario, what the Biden administration is doing is likely in violation of the First Amendment.

On top of that, despite what some politicians and the mainstream media would claim, the conversations among mask and vaccine skeptics are actually nuanced. They don't follow the hillbilly anti-vaxxer stereotype that ignores evidence and data if it contradicts their worldview. For instance, according to a study from MIT, mask skeptics are shown to be scientifically literate and data driven:

"The qualitative findings from deep lurking appeared consistent with the quantitative Twitter findings. Antimaskers on Facebook weren’t eschewing data. Rather, they discussed how different kinds of data were collected and why. “Their arguments are really quite nuanced,” says Lee. “It’s often a question of metrics.” For example, antimask groups might argue that visualizations of infection numbers could be misleading, in part because of the wide range of uncertainty in infection rates, compared to measurements like the number of deaths. In response, members of the group would often create their own counter-visualizations, even instructing each other in data visualization techniques."

Anyways, I'm not sure if Psaki is simply incompetent or whether she is super confident that the Biden administration can collaborate with Big Tech in such a fashion without repercussions. Either way, I think it was rather foolish for her to share this collaboration so brazenly.

 

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LateToTheParty
LateToTheParty

Agnostic classical liberal & fiscal conservative who likes anime, JRPGs, and Linux. You can also follow me on Read.cash/@LateToTheParty, Odysee.com/@LTTP, Steemit.com/@latetotheparty, and Twitter.com/latepartyguy.


Late to the Pol
Late to the Pol

My political commentary and opinions are all found here. May or may not involve falling up the stairs, falling off a stationary bike, or shaking hands with ghosts.

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