Sens. Warren, Duckworth, Blumenthal Support Biden Working With Facebook to Block COVID ‘Misinformation’

By Ashlianna Kreiner | July 26, 2021 | 12:04pm EDT
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.  (Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. (Getty Images)

(CNS News) – In reference to the Biden administration working with Facebook to suppress postings it considers “vaccine misinformation,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said they support this type of partnership. 

At the U.S. Capitol on July 20, CNS News asked the senators if the Biden administration should work with Facebook to suppress postings they consider to be COVID vaccine misinformation.

Sen. Warren said, “I think that we are in a public health emergency, and it is important that the surgeon general do everything he can to help protect our nation. Lives are on the line and misinformation about Covid is keeping us from beating back the Covid crises as effectively as we need to.”

CNS News later asked Sen. Duckworth the same question and she responded, “I mean that is a question we have been dealing with for quite a long time, with lots of misinformation out there. Yeah, I think they should, they should be able to work with them, but I am sure they’ll be challenged in court right away.”

Sen. Blumenthal, in response to this question, said, “I think the Biden administration is absolutely right to be demanding -- absolutely right to demand that the tech platforms try to crack down on potentially deadly misinformation. And, you know, if there were no Section 230, immunity from liability, big tech would be a lot more careful about what they allow on their platforms.”

CNS News asked Sen. Duckworth and Sen. Blumenthal if there were other topics they thought the administration should work with Facebook to censor.

Sen. Duckworth said, “I mean, I wouldn’t call it censoring, but I am not willing to address that at this time, but I think that we’re in middle a global pandemic and it is a public health emergency. Having accurate information out there is the primary—it’s a primary importance.”

Sen. Blumenthal answered, “Any other topics where they should? Well, you know I have proposed areas where I think the tech platforms should be much more responsible. For example, child pornography and other kinds of very clear misuses of their tech platforms. I don’t know what you mean by other topics, other subject areas?”

CNS News clarified, “Generally, just subject areas that the administration would have that type of authority to work with Facebook over.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)   (Getty Images)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) (Getty Images)

Sen. Blumenthal said, “I think that probably a lot of areas where big tech can be more responsible and more responsive to the public interests. I think the administration is getting their attention.”

On July 16, the Biden administration admitted that it is working with Facebook to suppress certain posts on the social media platform that contain alleged “vaccine misinformation.” 

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

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.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“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.” 

Transcript

Sen. Warren

CNSNews.com: “Should the Biden administration be able to work with Facebook to censor postings they believe to have covid vaccine misinformation?”

Warren: “I think that we are in a public health emergency, and it is important that the sergeant general do everything he can to help protect our nation. Lives are on the line and misinformation about Covid is keeping us from beating back the Covid crises as effectively as we need to.”

Sen. Duckworth

CNSNews.com: “Should the Biden administration be able to work with Facebook to suppress postings they believe are covid vaccine misinformation?”

Duckworth: “I mean, that is a question we have been dealing with for quite a long time, with lots of misinformation out there. Yeah, I think they should, they should be able to work with them but I am sure they’ll be challenged in court right away.”

CNSNews.com: “And are there any other topics you think they should be able to censor as well?”

Duckworth: “I mean, I wouldn’t call it censoring, but I am not willing to address that at this time, but I think that we’re in middle a global pandemic and it is a public health emergency. Having accurate information out there is the primary—it’s a primary importance.”

Sen. Blumenthal

CNSNews.com: “Should the Biden administration be able to work with Facebook to censor post they think are misinformation about the Covid vaccine?”

Sen. Blumenthal:Yeah. Absolutely right to demand that the tech platforms try to crack down on potentially deadly misinformation. And, you know, if there were no Section 230, immunity from liability, big tech would be a lot more careful about what they allow on their platforms.”

CNSNews.com: “Are there any other topics you think the administration should work with Facebook to censor?”

Sen. Blumenthal:Any other topics where they should? Well, you know I have proposed areas where I think the tech platforms should be much more responsible. For example, child pornography and other kinds of very clear misuses of their tech platforms. I don’t know what you mean by other topics, other subject areas?”

CNSNews.com: “Generally, just subject areas that the administration would have that type of authority to work with Facebook over.”

Sen. Blumenthal:I think that probably a lot of areas where big tech can be more responsible and more responsive to the public interests. I think the administration is getting their attention.”

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