- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 20, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has switched rhetorical gears on the Biden administration‘s role in flagging “misinformation” on Facebook.

Days of outrage over multiple comments regarding the removal of COVID-19 posts prompted a U-turn of sorts by Ms. Psaki on Tuesday.

“We’ve not asked Facebook to block any individual posts,” the Democrat told reporters when pressed for details on its relationship with Facebook. “The way this works is that there are trends that are out there on social media platforms. You’re aware of them. We’re aware of them. Anyone in the public can be aware of them.”

Ms. Psaki told reporters last week of increased efforts by the Surgeon General’s Office to identify posts — “we are flagging,” she said — that the administration considers disinformation.

“We are flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” she said on July 15.

“It’s important to take faster action against harmful posts,” Ms. Psaki continued. “Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts.”

Similarly, she suggested a blanket social media ban on Friday for those who share “problematic” content. “You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation out there,” she said.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald blasted the administration for its behavior.

“The Biden administration is telling Facebook which posts it regards as ‘problematic’ so that Facebook can remove them,” he tweeted on July 15. “This is the union of corporate and state power — one of the classic hallmarks of fascism — that the people who spent 5 years babbling about fascism support.”

But Ms. Psaki‘s comments Monday framed the White House‘s actions as more generalized in nature.

“There’s also data that we look at that many media platforms like many of you also look at data in terms of trends,” she said. “You report on it, which is to be expected, given the number of people who get their information from social media. It’s up to social media platforms to determine what their application is of their own rules and regulations. So we’ve just certainly raised where we have concerns about information that’s inaccurate that is traveling out there in whatever platform it’s traveling on.”

The media watchdog NewsBusters labeled Monday’s assertions, for all intents and purposes, as partisan subterfuge.

Her different stories are duplicitous gaslighting at worst,” wrote Kayla Sargent. “The White House could encourage free speech online. Instead, it has continually changed its tune and endangered the free speech of Americans. Even if the administration has ‘not asked Facebook to block any individual posts,’ as Psaki claimed, the fact remains that the Biden administration has no qualms about censoring the speech of its citizens.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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