Sen. Kaine: ‘Yes,’ Biden Should Work With Facebook to Block COVID ‘Misinformation’

By Elisabeth Nieshalla | July 23, 2021 | 11:31am EDT
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)  (Getty Images)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- When asked whether the Biden administration should work with Facebook to suppress postings it considers vaccine misinformation, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said, “Yes,” and added that doing so is “not suppression of speech” because the misinformation is “killing people.”

At the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing to question Dr. Anthony Fauci about the COVID-19 vaccine and the origins of the virus.

Upon exiting the hearing, CNS News asked Senator Kaine, who is a committee member, “Should the Biden Administration work with Facebook to suppress any postings it considers vaccine misinformation?”

“Work with, yes,” said Sen. Kaine. “Yeah, I think, I think there’s a lot of, I mean, I just came out of this hearing, the misinformation is just massive, and it really is now killing people.”

He continued, “Dr. Walensky just testified that, I think, right now, in the last five months, 99.7 percent of people who’ve died have been unvaccinated. Obviously, before that it was 100 percent who died who were unvaccinated.”

“And so, people from the president on down who are preaching misinformation about the vaccine – the president said folks aren’t getting vaccinated because they don’t trust the election results -- he said that on TV Sunday,” said Kaine.

“People who are preaching weird theories or misinformation about the vaccine are, are causing folks to die needlessly,” the senator said. “And so, yeah, I think trying to work with the social media platforms to get them to behave responsibly in that way would be smart.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In a follow-up question, CNS News asked, “Is there any other type of speech the administration should work with Facebook to suppress?”

“I haven’t really thought about that, and it’s not a suppression of speech,” he said. “That’s not what we’re talking about. You know, there's the First Amendment, but we have libel and slander laws, and that doesn’t violate the First Amendment. We have all kinds of time, place, and manner restrictions on speech. They’re not suppression, and they don’t violate the First Amendment.”

“But, no, when you are preaching misinformation that is causing preventable death, uh, I don’t think you have a right to do that, and it’s not suppression of speech to try to keep people from, from spreading, you know, death-creating lies,” said Senator Kaine.

Last week, the Biden administration admitted that it is working with Facebook to suppress certain posts on Facebook that contain alleged “vaccine misinformation.”

When asked about the posts on July 16, Biden said, “They’re killing people. … The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people."

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Also on July 16, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is “in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as [U.S. Surgeon General] Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.”

“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office,” said Psaki.  “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”

“You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others, uh – if you – for providing misinformation out there,” she said.

Psaki then explained four suggestions the White House has given to Facebook and commented, “We engage with them regularly and they certainly know what our asks are.”

However, Psaki told CNS News during her press conference on July 19 that the White House has “not asked Facebook to block any individual posts,” but the Biden administration “certainly raised where we have concerns about information that’s inaccurate that is traveling out there in whatever platform it’s traveling on.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) commented to Psaki on Twitter, “Her statement makes it abundantly clear they want people banned for simply disagreeing with the government’s pre-approved narrative.”

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