"We're flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We're working with doctors and medical experts…who are popular with their audience with accurate information. So, we're helping get trusted content out there."
That's White House Press Secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden administration defends handling of Haitians amid uproar Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Board removal 'Quad' summit is a chance to clarify our Indo-Pacific agenda MORE brazenly saying the quiet part out loud regarding the U.S. government colluding with a private company in deciding what constitutes misinformation and what doesn’t.
Talk about a slippery slope. This is akin to luge racing at the Olympics, except this luge has no breaks. Because if the White House can define what is misinformation and what isn't, and do so with Facebook, which clearly served at the pleasure of the Biden campaign in 2020, what’s to stop the White House from recommending censorship of certain stories?
To buy Psaki's argument, one also has to believe that:
(A) Facebook isn’t biased (it is)
(B) Facebook is acting in good faith (it's not)
(C) Facebook’s faceless fact-checking unit has an exemplary track record (it does not)
Because remember: Until about one month ago, Facebook censored posts about COVID possibly originating in a lab in Wuhan, China. Many in the media and in the Democratic Party called it a reckless conspiracy theory. Now suddenly it’s a real possibility, as even some Democrats are conceding.
Philip Wegmann of RealClearPolitics asked some fair, pointed questions of Psaki in terms of process and procedure around the White House and Facebook working together to battle "misinformation." Questions included:
How is "misinformation” being defined and identified?
How is the administration flagging "misinformation" on Facebook?
How often have they done it?
How long has this been happening?
What safeguards are there to protect free speech?
In a related story, Facebook also suppressed and censored any posts about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop shortly before the 2020 election, which appear to show that he peddled influence by using the family name. Not one person – including anyone in the Biden campaign – has refuted the contents of those emails, while Hunter himself has conceded that there "could be a laptop out there" that belongs to him. In another related story, the president's son is currently under federal investigation, which was only revealed after the November 2020 election.
Back to Psaki, who also shockingly argued this week that if a person is banned from one social media platform, he or she should be banned across all social media platforms.
Unreal: Jenn Psaki doubles down on the Democrat Biden administration pushing social media companies to ban accounts that promote misinformation, says that if you get banned from one site you should be banned from other sites. pic.twitter.com/dGzNrTUBsH— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) July 16, 2021
Again, this argument is being made by the spokesperson for the president of the United States. And by using Psaki's own argument that those who spread misinformation on social media need to be banned across all platforms, it looks like she's in line for such a ban. That’s based on her tweets regarding, for example, regarding Russian bounties on U.S. troops (debunked).
taking a moment to re-up the fact that @realDonaldTrump knew about Russia offering bounties to Taliban to take out US troops in Afghanistan and still defends Putin. his undervaluing contribution of US troops not just horrific--but also dangerous https://t.co/iqylqMyvqA— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) September 4, 2020
Perhaps during the next briefing, someone in the White House press could ask the press secretary about her future on social media given these transgressions.
As for the president, he's outright alleging that Facebook is killing people.
Reporter: "What's your message to platforms like Facebook?"— The Hill (@thehill) July 16, 2021
President BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE: "They're killing people." pic.twitter.com/jrAvQpG7i0
Yup. The president misses his goal of getting 70 percent of the country vaccinated by July 4, so perhaps it's time to introduce a scapegoat in Facebook.
Bottom line: The government and arguably the most powerful communications platform on the planet cannot and should not be working together to stop whatever it is they deem as misinformation.
In the end, more speech is better than no speech.
And if Facebook wants to ban certain information, it can do so. As a highly profitable private company, it isn't beholden to the First Amendment. But working with a presidential administration, regardless of party, on what can and cannot be seen puts us on the slipperiest of slopes.
Every American – particularly journalists – should be horrified.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.