Facebook parent company Meta is officially terminating its COVID-19 censorship policies in the U.S., the tech giant told The Washington Post.
Meta has repeatedly tamped down on COVID-19 “misinformation” in the U.S. and even faced pressure from the White House to engage in content suppression. Although the tech giant is done moderating this content in the U.S., it will continue restricting content “in countries that have a Covid-19 public health emergency declaration” due to “the risk of imminent physical harm,” Meta told the Post.
Meta’s Oversight Board, an independent body that reviews the social media platforms‘ content moderation efforts, released a report on April 20 advising continued censorship of COVID-19 “misinformation” until global health authorities took away the pandemic’s emergency classification.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 “no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern” about two weeks later on May 5.
Facebook banned numerous posts asserting COVID-19 was man-made before ending the policy May 2021, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The social media giant also solicited talking points from President Joe Biden’s administration to “get ahead” of the potentiality that people might be hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after evidence emerged that the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine might lead to life-threatening blood clots in some rare cases, documents shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
The platform targeted 27 million examples of what it considers “COVID-19 misinformation from Facebook and Instagram between March 2020 and July 2022,” according to the Oversight Board’s report.
The White House pushed Facebook to censor then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson for stating “vaccines” “don’t work,” according to an email obtained by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana.
“Since we’ve been on the phone – the top post about vaccines today is [T]ucker Carlson saying they don’t work,” White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty reportedly wrote in the email to an unknown Facebook employee on April 14, 2021. “This is exactly why I want to know what ‘Reduction’ actually looks like – if ‘reduction’ means ‘pumping our most vaccine hesitant audience with [T]ucker Carlson saying it doesn’t work’ then… I’m not sure it’s reduction!” Flaherty added.
The Facebook employee responded that they were “running this down now.”
Meta not only censored content on Facebook but also on other platforms under its umbrella, such as Instagram. The popular photo platform just restored Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s account on June 4 after banning him in 2021 for criticizing the COVID-19 vaccine.
“As he is now an active candidate for president of the United States, we have restored access to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s, Instagram account,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone told the Post.
Meta did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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