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Friday, April 19, 2024

Biden White House Pressured Google to Remove YouTube Videos

'The role of tech in addressing vaccine hesitancy is about to come under a massive spotlight particularly as the supply of the vaccine is soon to outpace demand...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The House Judiciary Committee has released documents showing that the White House pressured YouTube in 2021 to remove content that was promoting skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The documents, which were obtained via congressional subpoena, are a series of emails between White House official Rob Flaherty and employees of YouTube’s parent company, Google.

On April 12, 2021, Flaherty—Biden’s Director of Digital Strategy—emailed Google wanting to know how Google could better “crack down on vaccine misinformation” and to discuss “ways the White House (and our COVID experts) can partner in your product work.”

Flaherty’s email prompted an internal discussion at Google. One company employee said “Rob’s questions were very [YouTube] focused” and that the White House “dug in on our decision making for borderline content” that doesn’t “violate our Community Guidelines.”

The internal emails also show that YouTube was concerned about possible government scrutiny over its content decisions.

“Unfortunately, the role of tech in addressing vaccine hesitancy is about to come under a massive spotlight particularly as the supply of the vaccine is soon to outpace demand,” the April 2021 correspondence added.

After a series of emails and calls over the next week, Google determined that the White House was most concerned with anti-COVID vaccine content.

It’s not clear how the White House-Google collaboration affected YouTube content—though obviously much COVID content was and continues to be heavily censored.

Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, promised that his committee’s investigation will continue.

The release of the Google documents, which Jordan dubbed the “YouTube Files,” follows a similar set of documents related to Facebook’s content moderation. Those documents also show White House censorship pressure.

In one email, an unnamed Facebook employee said that “we are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the White House and the press, to remove more COVID-19 vaccine discouraging content.”

In another April 2021 email, a Facebook executive told his team that Andy Slavitt, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden, was “outraged” that Facebook didn’t remove a meme about the vaccine.

Jordan’s House Weaponization Subcommittee is set to hold a hearing about social media censorship today. Presumably, both the abovementioned documents will be discussed.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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