Republicans press White House on communications with social media platforms

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A group of nine Senate Republicans is demanding the White House clarify recent comments about flagging coronavirus misinformation to social media platforms.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing earlier this month that the administration has been alerting platforms about “problematic posts” related to COVID-19, a remark that immediately drew First Amendment concerns.

“Psaki’s vague description of the Administration’s endeavor to ‘flag’ posts on social media lacks a clear explanation regarding how the Administration will work with social media platforms to police speech on the Internet,” the GOP senators wrote in their letter to President Biden on Monday.

“With this history, big tech, the corporate media, and the Administration have no credibility in determining what is and isn’t ‘misinformation,’ ” they added.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on the letter, which was publicly released Tuesday.

The Biden administration has been increasing pressure on companies such as Facebook and YouTube to do more to tackle health misinformation amid a rise in coronavirus cases. 

Biden this month accused social media platforms of killing people with false information about vaccines. He later walked back those remarks.

Potential coordination between the White House and social media platforms has raised alarm, with some warning against letting the government determine what kind of speech constitutes medical misinformation.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Facebook first amendment Freedom of speech Jen Psaki Joe Biden misinformation Pandemic social media platforms YouTube
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