Joe Biden backed off of his previous accusation that Facebook was “killing people” after the company’s strong pushback against the accusation.
On Monday, Biden responded to a reporter’s question about his hyperbolic statement.
“Mr. President, you said last week that companies like Facebook are killing people,” a reporter asked.
“I know precisely what I said,” Biden responded. ” I am glad you asked me that question. One, I had just read that Facebook pointed out — it was pointed out that Facebook of all the misinformation, 60 percent of the misinformation came from 12 individuals. That’s what the article said.”
“So I was asked that question about what do I think is happening?” he contiued. “Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It is killing people. It’s bad information.”
“My hope is that Facebook instead of taking it personally that somehow I am saying that Facebook is killing people that they would do something about the misinformation. The outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant.”
“Have they done enough in your opinion to stop —” the reporter pressed.
“To be completely honest with you, I don’t think they did anything today, up to — over the weekend I don’t think they had, but I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question,” he confessed.
“Will you hold them accountable as they don’t do more to stop the spread?” he said.
“When you say hold accountable, I just want to — I’m not trying to hold people accountable, I’m trying to make people to look at themselves,” he deflected. “Look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relative, someone you love. That’s all I am asking.”
It was an answer to a loaded question that risked exposing the president’s intention to violate the First Amendment rights of Americans. Contrary to the widespread misperception, even the government working with private companies to censor Americans violates the First Amendment.
(Thread 1/3): Joined @JacquiHeinrich and @ChristopherHahn on @FoxNews today to discuss the @WhiteHouse doubling down on censorship and @JoeBiden saying #Facebook is killing people. This is unconstitutional, it violates the #FirstAmendment, and it needs to stop. pic.twitter.com/ShKfEVvP51
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) July 17, 2021
The Liberty Center’s Harmeet Dhillon explained why on Fox News on Saturday. “This is unconstitutional, it violates the First Amendment, and it needs to stop,” Dhillon said.
Facebook has released a statement after being accused by President Biden of ‘killing people’ because it isn’t censoring enough COVID ‘misinformation’ at the behest of the U.S. government.
The statement was released on Friday:
— ABC News (@ABC) July 16, 2021
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the Internet.”
“More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine,” the statement added. “The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
It should be appreciated, first of all, that the U.S. government and Facebook have been working together to fight “misinformation” online, but clearly cannot even agree on the truth behind a single public statement by the president.
This is the irony that results when a private company teams up with the U.S. government to become the sole arbiters of “truth” in a public information space. Facebook practically called out Biden’s statement as ‘fake news.’
The dispute began on Friday when Biden lashed out at Facebook for not doing enough to censor COVID information.
“On misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” a reporter asked.
“They’re killing people,” Biden said.
“I mean they’re really… look,” he continued. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”
Jen Psaki had argued on Thursday that critics of COVID policies and vaccines should be censored on Facebook. On Thursday, Psaki disclosed that the White House is “in regular touch with social media platforms” to censor what they deem is ‘misinformation.’
“We are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team — given, as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue, of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic,” Psaki explained.
On Friday, she went a step further and said that critics should be censored on all social media platforms, which she even called “public platforms.”
“Also with the public, all of you, to create robust enforcement strategies that provide transparency about rules,” Psaki said. “You should not be banned from one platform and not others if you are providing misinformation out there.”
Last Friday, Psaki argued that critics of Biden’s door-to-door vaccine check program were similarly guilty of ‘killing people.’
“Well, let me first say that the failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines, and the accessibility of them to people across the country… is literally killing people.”
This is nothing more than a rhetorical tactic being wielded to silence Americans. It looks like the Biden White House knows it’s on shaky legal terrain, and has begun to walk its public statements back.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.