White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted on Thursday that the administration is in “regular” contact with social media platforms and is “flagging problematic posts” it deems to be “misinformation” for Facebook, and presumably other platforms, to censor and delete.
But Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said Friday that what Psaki announced looks “an awful lot like a First Amendment violation” and a roundabout way for the government to illegally censor speech it doesn’t like, Breitbart reported.
“A private, for-profit corporation can make its own decisions, but when it’s doing that in collusion with government, it starts to look to me an awful lot like a First Amendment violation,” Lee said.
He also argued that the apparent collusion and coordination between Big Tech and the Biden administration was more proof of Big Tech’s bias in favor of the ideological left against those on the right.
White House “flagging” posts
It was during Thursday’s press briefing that Psaki, on the topic of the alleged prevalence of “misinformation” and deliberate “disinformation” on social media about COVID-19 and vaccines, outlined a number of proposals and recommendations from the White House for social media platforms to follow — and actions the administration itself was taking — to combat the spread of such misinformation.
“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office,” Psaki said. “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”
Her comment blew up on social media, as it very clearly implied that the government was issuing directives for private social media platforms to follow regarding what sort of information could and could not be shared online by users.
Government can’t censor speech
In an appearance Friday on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, following a clip of Psaki’s concerning statement, Sen. Lee said, “Look, the government can’t censor speech. The First Amendment makes that very clear.”
Government should be in the business of protecting speech – not suppressing it. pic.twitter.com/PfSQiLvsdS
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) July 16, 2021
“In any event, what we’ve seen is social media platforms and search engines on occasion — on many, many occasions of late — promising to be even-handed, portraying themselves to their users and to the public as even-handed, when they are anything but that,” Lee added. “And the American people aren’t going to tolerate that much longer.”
Host Bill Hemmer rattled off several major stories over the past year that had been sharply censored and minimized by Big Tech, and Sen. Lee was quick to point out the one particular similarity in all of those squashed stories.
“They are all messages that are deemed to be associated in one way or another with the right and not the left,” Lee said. “You do not find instances of this happening for messages on the left. And the reason for that is pretty darn obvious.”