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Facebook Files Reveal White House’s Efforts to Control COVID Narrative on Social Media

Newly released “Facebook Files” shed light on the extent to which the White House sought to control the COVID-19 narrative on social media, particularly with regards to vaccine hesitancy. Internal company communications show that White House officials pressed Facebook for special access to tools to target vaccine-hesitant users and berated the company for not sharing enough data.

Credit: DepositPhotos

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During an April 5th call, President Biden’s digital director, Rob Flaherty, asked if government agencies could be given access to special targeting parameters to convince people concerned about vaccine side effects. The discussions included suggestions on how to address users’ vaccine concerns without triggering alarm or “Big Brother” perceptions. White House officials were also keen on countering vaccine misinformation, especially in rural areas where people might believe information found on Facebook to be true.

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Despite concerns about privacy and potential surveillance, White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the notion of “Big Brother” monitoring, emphasizing that the information was publicly available. However, the calls between the White House and Facebook became more contentious, with Facebook accused of being less cooperative than other platforms in sharing information.

After an April 14th phone call between White House officials and Facebook staff, Facebook eventually provided a substantial data dump to the White House, aiming to help address vaccine misinformation. The data, gathered from CrowdTangle, was analyzed to formulate policy recommendations.

These revelations have raised questions about the extent of government involvement in social media content moderation and the impact it may have on freedom of information.

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Malik is a skilled writer with a passion for news and current events. With their keen eye for detail, they provide insightful perspectives on the latest happenings. Stay informed and engaged!