White House Asked Facebook to Censor Conservative Commentators

Originally published August 3, 2023 5:28 pm PDT

The memo specifically targets posts by “polarizing” conservative commentator Tomi Lahren.

  • Congress received 2021 meeting notes from Facebook that showed the Biden White House asked Facebook to censor posts in order to promote the mainstream media’s views on COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The meetings involved White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty and Facebook executives.
  • In a memo from April 14, 2021, Flaherty asked Facebook if it could tweak its algorithm to push articles from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal over those from The Daily Wire and Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren.
  • Flaherty asked, “If you were to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people. You wouldn’t have a mechanism to check the material impact?”
  • Lahren stated she would not take the COVID-19 vaccine, prompting executives to censor her content and expose social media users to material encouraging them to receive the inoculation.
  • “What are the things driving hesitancy on your platform? What is it? How big is the problem? When you are intervening, how are you measuring success?” Flaherty asked Facebook executives.
  • The Facebook executive explained how the social media platform moderates content, using Lahren’s posts as an example.
  • “In terms of interventions, know that there are groups that are hot spots – mandatory post approvals – admins have to approve posts. If violating content is approved, give the group a strike,” the executive said. “I’m uncovering new examples on comments – public figures on comments might be contributing more. Tomi Lahren posted on how she’s not getting the vaccine. Even with comment reduction, still struggling if we reduce comments from public figures, Tomi Lahren makes a post.”
  • Tomi Lahren said it is “flattering” that she has been specifically targeted by the White House.
  • “But the fact his team would go to such great lengths to silence me for simply saying I won’t personally get the COVID vaccine is disturbing to say the least. Free speech is on its last leg under Joe Biden,” she continued.
  • Ben Shapiro also offered a statement on the matter, stating that the “Biden White House’s pressure on Facebook to target Daily Wire for traffic reduction is an obvious, disgusting, and predictable First Amendment violation.”
  • “Government action is still government action even when the government is cudgeling private corporations to do the dirty work of censorship,” he continued.
  • Shapiro added that The Daily Wire is looking into legal options: “We sued the Biden administration to stop the OSHA vaccine mandate, and we’re not afraid of taking them to court again to preserve free speech rights. We’re looking into all available remedies as we speak,” he said.
  • According to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the Biden administration also wanted Facebook to censor true information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • One document read, “The Surgeon General wants us to remove true information about side effects if the user does not provide complete information about whether the side effect is rare and treatable.”
  • “We currently label all of the content and demote some of it,” the document continued. “We could remove the content or increase the demotion strength.”