White House staffers had RFK Jr. tweet removed, told Facebook to remove 'borderline' posts

 July 12, 2023

U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty made headlines last week when he issued an injunction banning senior White House figures from pressuring social media companies to restrict speech.

Yet as The Washington Times noted on Tuesday, Doughty's also used his ruling to expose the censorious tactics employed by lower-level Biden administration staff. 

Staff members arranged to have RFK Jr. tweet removed

Among them was Clarke Humphrey, who previously served as digital director for the White House's COVID-19 response team.

In one example, court documents cited an email sent by Humphrey to Twitter officials asking them to remove a tweet put out by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

"Hey folks — Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process of having it removed ASAP," Humphrey wrote in a message sent three days after President Joe Biden took office.

That message was also forwarded to Rob Flaherty, someone who according to the Times has since taken a job with Biden's reelection campaign.

Humphrey and Flaherty did not limit their focus to Twitter, as the White House staffers also made a point of demanding that Facebook take action against "borderline" content related to vaccines.

Facebook blamed for facilitating January 6 riot

This included Facebook posts which did not violate the social media platform's terms of service but were nevertheless disapproved of by the Biden administration.

Flaherty at one point sent an email to Facebook in which he accused the company of "hiding the ball" from the White House, saying, "I don’t think this is a misunderstanding."

"I’ve been asking you guys pretty directly, over a series of conversations, for a clear accounting of the biggest issues you are seeing on your platform when it comes to vaccine hesitancy, and the degree to which borderline content — as you define it — is playing a role," he insisted.

What's more, Flaherty accused Facebook of helping to facilitate the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill and demanded to know how the platform would help prevent such events in the future.

White House appeals ruling

Fox News reported on Monday that Doughty's injunction applies to the Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI, and a host of other federal entities.

Those agencies are prevented from contacting social media firms for the purpose of "encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech."

For its part, the White House has appealed Doughty's order to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, claiming that it will cause "irreparable harm."

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Thomas Jefferson
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