Newly released information shows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) having direct communication with social media companies to assist in policing "misinformation."
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest online platforms and social media communities have attempted to control the narrative about what information is shared on their platforms.
Internal communications obtained and shared by America First Legal (AFL) show that the CDC had consistent contact with officials from corporate social media companies to address the spread of "misinformation." AFL received the documents after filing a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request with the CDC and a lawsuit to expedite the process.
The documents show personal communications between Carol Crawford, the Digital Media Branch Chief for the CDC, and representatives of Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
The emails show that Facebook gave the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over $15 million in free advertising on the platform, described as a “non-monetary gift.”
Additionally, Facebook supplied the CDC with data from COVID-19 surveys it collected from Facebook users.
Google also came into play, with Crawford asking Google executives to place CDC information and web pages at the top of Google searches related to the virus and the vaccine.
At the CDC’s request, Google signal-boosted a job announcement for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “unicorn program” to provide “comprehensive global training on tracking, analyzing and addressing misinformation.”
“These explosive smoking-gun documents, obtained as a result of America First Legal’s litigation against the Biden Administration, conclusively demonstrate that Big Tech has unlawfully colluded with the federal government to silence, censor, and suppress Americans’ free speech and violate their First Amendment rights,” said AFL President, Stephen Miller.
“Government is expressly prohibited from censoring competing or dissenting viewpoints or from silencing its political opponents whether it does so directly or whether it uses an outside corporation to achieve its draconian, totalitarian ends. AFL will not rest in the fight against illegal collusion between Big Tech and Big Government to trample on your voices and the Bill of Rights.”
Concerned Doctors is an organization of medical professionals at various levels of medicine, all of whom have a collective concern about the government's response to the pandemic. According to members of Concerned Doctors, the organization has experienced censorship during the pandemic.
“Usually [social media] will just send us something saying that [a post] is misinformation or it doesn't meet community standards; that’s the usual jargon that they use,” said Dr. Michael Brown with Concerned Doctors. “When they do leave something up, they put up a cautionary statement saying, ‘This has been proven not to be valid,’ or they direct you to the CDC website.”
According to Jase Carns, who runs digital media for Concerned Doctors, the organization’s YouTube page was shut down after a short run.
“I do digital media for concerneddoctors.org, so we created a YouTube channel, and pretty quickly — in about a month-and-a-half — we had about 2,000 subscribers, which is a pretty quick boost,” Carns said.
Carns described an event in which an Alabama doctor spoke at a local restaurant, which was shared on their YouTube channel.
“Here we are, we have a local doctor at a local restaurant, speaking to a local community about his ideas on a pandemic that’s affecting the community,” Carns said. “I live-streamed it on Youtube, and the next day, the entire channel was deleted. So all that time and effort to grow that channel just went up in smoke. They said it was for ‘violating policy.’ Well, what policy?”
Concerned Doctors have been resigned to less mainstream forms of social media and video releases to avoid further issues.
“We have things like Rumble and Vimeo, but they just don’t reach as big an audience,” Carns said. “I’m posting on ConcernedDoctors.org, on Rumble, and I’m embedding videos, so I’m not experiencing that much censorship.”
Alabama has attempted to deal with social media censorship since the start of the pandemic.
Alabama Senator Arthur Orr, (R-Decatur) presented a bill in the 2021 regular session which sought to prevent social media companies from “taking certain restrictive or suppressive action against a user of its service based on either a viewpoint expressed or shared by the user or true statements of fact expressed or shared by the user.”
The bill stipulated penalties of $100,000 for each offense and an additional $100,000 for each day of the continuance of the offense. The bill never made it to the Senate Judiciary committee.
Former Alabama State Rep. Perry Hooper said, "The CDC works for the citizens of this country. The CDC like so many in the deep state has completely forgotten this fact.
"During the height of the pandemic, they wanted to keep American citizens from expressing their opinions concerning the pandemic and vaccine. They conspired with Big Tech to do just that. It’s outrageous but true. America First Legal has the smoking gun. They have obtained the emails that [prove] this conspiracy.
"For at least six months, beginning in December 2020, the CDC told Big Tech who and what to censor. They do not believe that Americans have the fundamental right to express their opinion no matter what the constitution states. These power-hungry bureaucrats must be stopped by electing a majority Republican [U.S.] House and [U.S.] Senate in November."
Alabama Attorney General (AG) Steve Marshall has attempted to address this issue by asking citizens to send in reported cases of censorship. The form is available on the AG’s website and allows people to submit complaints if they believe they have been censored on various platforms.
“Big Tech is not the Ministry of Truth," Marshall said. "It should concern us all when platforms that hold such tremendous power and influence over information wield that power in contradiction of — and with undisguised disdain for — the foundational American principles of free speech and freedom of the press. The censorship campaign currently being waged by giant corporate oligarchs like Facebook and Twitter is, in a word, un-American.”
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