The Biden White House inquired in meetings with Facebook executives asking whether Facebook could tweak its algorithm to showcase stories from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal over content posted by “polarizing” conservative journalists and commentators in early 2021, according to meeting notes the social media firm turned over to Congress that are alarming some constitutional lawyers. The alleged focus of the meetings was to assist the administration while it struggled to combat COVID vaccine hesitancy.
The memos, reviewed by Just the News, chronicle a series of meetings between White House digital director Rob Flaherty and executives from Facebook, now known as Meta, in spring 2021 as the first questions about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccine began surging on social media.
The memos delivered recently under subpoena to the House Judiciary Committee make clear the White House was actively interacting with Facebook, and sometimes pressuring the social media giant to moderate content in a way that would encourage more Americans to get inoculations.
President Joe Biden would eventually mandate such shots for many Americans, though he was reversed by the courts and Congress.
On April 14, 2021, for instance, the White House’s Flaherty asked Facebook whether it could promote The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal over The Daily Wire and Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren, according to Facebook meeting documents obtained by Just the News.
Flaherty asked Facebook employees “If you were to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people. You wouldn’t have a mechanism to check the material impact?” according to Facebook’s typewritten notes from the meeting.
Lahren had publicly announced she was choosing to skip taking the vaccine, and Daily Wire filed one of the landmark lawsuits challenge Biden’s mandate that companies force their employees to get the shots as a term of keeping their jobs.
Prior to Flaherty’s question, he discussed COVID vaccine hesitancy with Facebook employees during the meeting, asking what the company was doing about it.
“We have to explain to President, Ron, people, why there is misinfo on the internet, bigger problem than FB,” Flaherty was quoted as saying. “Where issues are, what interventions are, how well they are working, for products, want to engage in things that you know to be effective. I don’t even care about specific methodology, you have better, richer data than we’ll ever have.