White House forced YouTube to censor COVID-19 “misinformation,” internal documents reveal

It’s been a year since Big Tech mogul and former X CEO Elon Musk released the controversial “Twitter Files,” which proved that President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and White House colluded with previous Twitter management to implement big-brother censorship and high-profile content moderation on mostly conservatives because of their political views. Then, the Facebook Files emerged, leading Meta to change internal policies due to pressure from the Biden administration.

Now, internal documents from Google, which owns YouTube, have been unearthed. These show that Biden pressured the company to censor Americans from spreading alleged “misinformation” related to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and vaccinations. This was disclosed by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who held a live hearing on social media censorship on Thursday.

On a long thread on X, where he first presented other tech giants’ collusion with big government, Jordan further said: “Here’s the first edition of the YouTube Files. We knew the Biden White House was pushing Facebook and Twitter to censor more. Now we know the White House was repeatedly pressuring Google to censor content on YouTube.”

The documents, acquired through a source close to the committee, reveal that the White House sought to quash vaccine skeptics. The lawmaker further disclosed that on April 12, 2021, Rob Flaherty, Biden’s director of Digital Strategy, emailed Google wanting to know how the company could better crack down on vaccine “misinformation” and to discuss ways the White House can partner in its product work. Flaherty already left the administration to be deputy campaign manager for Biden’s re-election bid in the 2024 polls.

After a week, an internal email from Google noted that Flaherty “particularly dug in on our decision-making for borderline content,” referring to content that doesn’t violate their Community Guidelines, but instead brushes up against it. Another week passed, the search engine company acknowledged that they sent the White House a list of videos removed for COVID-19 vaccine “misinformation.” “Really [Flaherty’s] interested in what we’re seeing that is not coming down,” reads an email from YouTube. “…there is a very high degree of interest now coming from the White House regarding vaccine misinfo/vaccine hesitancy and our work around borderline content.” It continued, saying that unfortunately, the role of tech in addressing vaccine hesitancy is about to come under a massive spotlight particularly as the supply of the vaccine is soon to outpace demand.

“Over the last several weeks, the Google & YT GAAP team have had conversations with the White House staff on YouTube’s policies and all the great work that is being done to raise authoritative information and fight harmful misinformation related to COVID-19 misinformation,” the communication further read.

The next day, YouTube’s Government Affairs team sent an internal email to the product team to flag the interactions with the White House. “We were hoping to get something on the books in the next two weeks or so to prevent anything from potentially spiraling out of control,” read the email. The team then asked if the product team would meet directly with White House staff to show how much censorship they’ve conducted on their behalf, because “[White House] staff continued to have questions on the raise/reduce efforts” to reduce ‘misinformation’.

Within the same thread, Jordan vowed that his committee will continue the critical investigative work to further inform legislative solutions to the vast government censorship enterprise. He also said that Sen, Rand Paul and the House Republicans introduced legislation that would provide victims of censorship with the ability to sue the government bureaucrats, who are responsible for causing their constitutionally protected speech to be removed. (Related: Rep. Jim Jordan destroys Democrat claim that government never told Twitter to censor.)

 Jordan issues subpoena to Flaherty to testify

Jordan immediately subpoenaed Flaherty to testify about his actions to pressure digital platforms to censor content on the same day of the committee hearing. The latter must sit for committee questions on Jan. 11, the Ohio solon wrote in the legally binding demand for testimony.

“The committee was able to obtain documents that demonstrate the central role you played in communicating the Biden White House’s censorship efforts to social media companies, including the White House’s demands to censor true information, memes, satire and other constitutionally protected forms of expression,” Jordan said in the letter to Flaherty. “Your testimony will inform the committee’s legislative reforms aimed at preventing the Executive Branch from wielding its immense power to pressure social media platforms to censor disfavored viewpoints.”

According to the New York Post, the pending Supreme Court case, for which oral arguments have not yet been scheduled, followed a lower court ruling restricting the government’s ability to pressure companies to squelch disfavored speech. The said ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Republican state attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, who argued that the Biden administration was violating Americans’ First Amendment free speech rights.

The lawsuit turned up a large number of documents showing that Flaherty and his team contacted Facebook and Twitter to limit the spread of alleged “misinformation” about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 shots. But he repeatedly declined to appear to testify in the case. The same goes with former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who proclaimed in July 2021 that Biden aides were “flagging” content for removal, but were unsuccessful.

Below is the video of the House Judiciary subcommittee meeting to examine claims that the federal government censors speech on social media.

Censorship.news has more stories related to this.

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