House Report Exposes Biden Administration’s Censorship-Industrial Complex

by | May 17, 2024 | News Analysis, Commentary and Opinion

Media Blackout and GOP Silence on House Report Enhance Concerns Over Biden White House Overreach

On May 1, 2024, the House of Representatives released a report titled “The Censorship-Industrial Complex,” (and appendix) detailing how senior Biden White House officials coerced major tech companies into censoring users. Compiled by the House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the report documents significant First Amendment violations impacting free speech and the flow of information online.

This highly detailed nearly 100-page report — with its 800+ page appendex — in any other modern U.S. political era, would be devistating to a Presidency. Yet, both news outlets and the GOP ignore it.

(Below) Click on image to read House report. 

2024MAY01 U.S. House Report on Biden White House Censorship

(Below) Screenshot from the report’s executive summary presents email quote where Sir Nicholas Clegg, former UK Deputy Prime Minister and now Meta’s President of Global Affairs, had explained First Amendment rights to a Biden White House official.

Former UK official Nick Clegg explaining 1st Amendment rights to Biden Official

(Below) Sir Nicholas Clegg, then Deputy Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam (UK), speaking at the World Economic Forum 2011. Photo taken before his employment at Meta.

Nick Clegg World Economic Forum Meeting

Big Tech Changed Company Content Moderation Policies Because of Biden White House Pressure

The report reveals that Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon changed their content moderation policies due to intense pressure from the Biden White House. Internal communications show that these companies adjusted their policies, not based on violations of their standards, but to align with the administration’s directives.

For instance, internal emails from Facebook indicate that employees were instructed to remove content about the man-made origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, even though it did not violate platform policies. An email from Facebook to its employees stated, “We were under pressure from the administration and others to do more… We shouldn’t have done it” (p. 14).

White House’s Censorship Campaign Targeted True Information, Satire, and Content that Did Not Violate the Platforms’ Policies

The Biden Administration’s censorship efforts went beyond misinformation, targeting true information, satire, and opinions that did not align with their public health messaging. An internal Facebook email from July 2021 revealed, “The Surgeon General wants us to remove true information about side effects” (p. 30). This campaign extended to humorous or satirical content questioning vaccine safety, and even posts that simply did not fit the administration’s narrative.

One example involved the suppression of a Facebook post comparing Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccines to asbestos poisoning. Despite Facebook’s initial resistance, the post was removed following intense pressure from the White House. This intervention illustrates direct government influence on what information was permissible on social media platforms.

In June 2023, two years after this instance of censorship, the FDA revoked the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) Covid vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) due to blood clot risks and it is no longer available in the United States.

Internal Company Communications

Internal communications from companies like Facebook reveal the extent of the pressure. Facebook’s leadership was directly involved in discussions on how to respond to White House demands. An internal draft email from Facebook personnel stated, “We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the [Biden] White House… to remove more COVID-19 vaccine discouraging content.” (p. 33)

Biden White House Pushed Censorship of Books, Not Just Social Media

The Biden Administration’s influence extended beyond social media, pressuring Amazon to censor books that questioned vaccine safety and efficacy. Internal Amazon emails revealed that the impetus for policy changes came directly from White House criticism. An internal email from March 2021 explained, “[T]he impetus for this request is criticism from the Biden Administration about sensitive books we’re giving prominent placement to” (p. 78).

(Below) Email, as presented in report, from Amazon employee describing a new policy as a result of Biden White House influence. Click on image to enlarge.

Internal email on new company policy

Amazon’s policy changes included placing books questioning vaccine efficacy in a “Do Not Promote” category. Internal Amazon emails revealed the company accelerated a new policy that disfavored anti-vaccine books (p. 77-80). This highlighted a troubling precedent where governmental disapproval is influencing the availability of information in the largest online bookstore.

Chilling Effect on Free Speech

The report highlights the chilling effect this pressure had on free speech. Companies like Facebook and YouTube began over-censoring to avoid further criticism from the government, leading to the suppression of legitimate discourse. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted, “This seems like a good reminder that when we compromise our standards due to pressure from an administration in either direction, we’ll often regret it later” (p. 12).

By suppressing free speech and distorting public debate, ideas and policies were no longer fairly tested on their merits. Policymakers implemented public health measures that proved disastrous, such as extended school closures and vaccine mandates that forced workers to take a newly developed vaccine or risk losing their jobs. The report states, “The Biden Administration and other officials needlessly imposed harm and suffering on Americans across the country” (p. 1).

Legislative Proposals

The report paints a detailed picture of how the Biden Administration’s pressure tactics led to widespread censorship on major tech platforms, including true information and legitimate opinions. Such censorship prevents the public from accessing diverse viewpoints and hinders informed decision-making. The report underscores the need for robust legislative frameworks to prevent government overreach and protect civil liberties in the digital age.

The report concludes with a call for immediate action to reinforce the First Amendment and protect against governmental overreach in the digital realm, ensuring that American democracy remains resilient and robust.

In response, House Republicans have proposed new legislation to protect free speech, including the Free Speech Protection Act and the Censorship Accountability Act. These aim to hold federal employees accountable for violating First Amendment rights (p. 6).

Despite the significance of these findings, there is a media blackout on the report, with major news outlets failing to cover the story. Additionally, the Republican Party has yet to call out the Biden administration in any meaningful way. Why?

Election Influencing Through Censorship and Manipulation?

Although the House report does not explicitly mention tech companies influencing elections, Dr. Robert Epstein, a prominent psychologist and researcher, has extensively studied the influence of tech companies on public opinion and elections. He has testified before Congress about how companies like Google can manipulate their products to sway voters. Although his primary focus has been on the independent actions of these companies, his findings align with concerns raised in the report about the potential for tech giants to influence elections under governmental pressure.

Dr. Epstein’s research highlights the mechanisms through which technology companies can subtly manipulate user behavior. He has shown that biased search results can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by significant margins. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution in July 2019, he estimated that Google could influence millions of votes in elections.

(Below) Dr. Robert Epstein testifies before Congress regarding the manipulation of elections across the United States by big tech monopolies, such as Google. During his testimony, he describes the situation as an ‘existential threat’ to our electoral process and claims that Google played a role in preventing the ‘Red Wave’ in the 2022 mid-term elections.

(Below) A week after his Congressional testimony, Dr. Robert Epstein discusses Google’s influence on election during an interview on the Jimmy Dore Show. He emphasizes that their impact cannot be “over-estimated.”

Epstein’s Recommendations to the Average American

To counteract the undue influence of tech companies, Dr. Epstein offers several recommendations:

Diversify Information Sources

Use multiple search engines and social media platforms to avoid being influenced by a single source. This helps balance the information received and reduces the impact of any one company’s algorithms.

Educate Others

Raise awareness about the potential for manipulation and educate friends and family on how to critically evaluate online information. An informed public is better equipped to recognize and resist biased content.

Use Privacy Tools

Employ privacy-protecting tools and services to limit the data that tech companies can collect. This includes using private search engines like DuckDuckGo, encrypted communication services, and browser extensions that block tracking.

Support Independent Research

Back independent research and journalism on the influence of tech companies. We need more research and alternate channels of communication to understand the full extent of the problem and to develop effective countermeasures.

By adopting these strategies, Dr. Epstein believes Americans can begin to safeguard themselves against potential manipulation by tech companies. Epstein currently publishes America’s Digital Shielda project that exposes and counters Big Tech’s influence on elections and digital content.

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