Documents obtained by America First Legal (AFL) reveal “concrete evidence” of how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) colluded with the social media giants to promote the Biden administration’s COVID-19 propaganda and censor Americans’ free speech, AFL reports.
Stephen Miller, president of AFL, said in a statement about the bombshell revelation:
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. 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.
The first documents are revealed one year after former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted in July 2021 the White House was working with social media companies to identify “latest narratives, dangerous to public health,” and stated, “there is information that is leading to people not taking the vaccine.”
AFL originally requested the documents immediately after that admission through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the Biden administration “obstructed” and “delayed” their release, resulting in AFL’s lawsuit in April against CDC to compel the release of the information and determine the degree to which the White House has been working with Big Tech companies to decide what information Americans should have access to regarding COVID-19.
Read more here: https://t.co/DazhNiYJHd
— America First Legal (@America1stLegal) July 28, 2022
“Jen Psaki’s admission was the impetus for our FOIA request,” AFL Vice President and General Counsel Gene Hamilton said in comments to The Star News Network. “The White House – in no uncertain terms – admitted to engaging in conduct directly aimed at controlling content on social media platforms. And so as shocking as these records are, they should not be surprising.”
“What is surprising is that it took litigation to pry these records loose from the federal government, and that the Administration apparently has no qualms about violating the First Amendment in pursuit of its ideological goals,” Hamilton added. “The federal government is not the arbiter of truth for the American people.“
In its report of the documents obtained, what AFL asserts is “just the tip of the iceberg,” several samples from exchanges between CDC and the social media companies include:
CDC sends Twitter officials a chart of tweets it deemed to be “misinformation” (p. 7):
In this email, dated May 10, 2021, Carol Crawford of CDC writes to Twitter’s Todd O’Boyle.
“We wanted to point out two issues that we are seeing a great deal of misinfo about – vaccine shedding and microchips,” Crawford says. “The below are just some example posts. We do plan to post something shortly to address vaccine shedding and I can send that link soon. Our census team copied here, has much more info on it if needed.”
“Also, we are standing up a BOLO [Be On the Lookout] COVID misinformation meeting and inviting all tech platforms,” Crawford adds.
According to AFL, “regular BOLO (Be On the LookOut) meetings” were conducted “where CDC would share what they categorized as ‘misinformation’ with various social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, and provide slide decks, requesting ‘Please do not share outside your trust and safety teams.’” (pp. 5, 28, 36-52)
In the following example, Twitter’s O’Boyle asks Crawford to set up “regular chats” between the two, “so we can examine trends.”
“All examples of misinformation are helpful, but, in particular, if you have any examples of fraud – such as fraudulent covid cures, fraudulent vaccine cards, etc., that would be very helpful,” he adds.
“Yes, we’ll get that to you early next week,” Crawford responded to the email. “Thanks for checking in.”
In another example email from March 23, 2021, Twitter’s O’Boyle appears to explain to CDC’s Crawford a “check-in” between the two would be “tricky” since his CEO was “testifying before Congress this week.”
A sample email exchange between Facebook and CDC officials reveals Facebook appearing to offer CDC $15 million worth of Facebook ad credits “and strategic marketing support services.”
“Thank you for this amazing offer,” CDC’s Crawford responds. “We’ll work with our policy staff on next steps.”
In another exchange, Facebook works with CDC to arrange for a “COVID-19 Misinformation Reporting Channel for CDC and Census” so that CDC can make reports to Facebook.
Additionally, a “training meeting” for the Misinformation Reporting Channel is set.
Facebook also tells CDC is it committed “to share our survey data on vaccine uptake” with CDC.
“We are sharing these findings regularly moving forward to help inform your teams and strategies,” Facebook’s Payton Iheme writes to Crawford and her CDC colleagues, touting the social media giant’s own research.
“Note that highlights of the findings are up top, a robust executive summary follows, and then a deep dive into the methodology, greater detail on state trends, occupations, barriers to acceptance, etc,” Iheme states. “Hopefully, this format works for the various teams and audiences within CDC that may find this data valuable.”
In one sample email exchange with Google dated February 25, 2021, Crawford requests that Google promote CDC’s new webpage “About VaccineFinder” by ensuring the page “would come up higher in results instead of our provider page (VaccineFinder: COVID-19 Information for Jurisdictions and Healthcare Providers).
On June 11, 2020 – in advance of the COVID vaccines’ availability – CDC’s Elisabeth Wilhelm wrote to Google’s Alexios Mantzarlis informing him WHO [World Health Organization] “is hosting an infodemiology conference at the end of this month,” and that CDC is “establishing the scientific discipline of infodemiology, and targeting the general public for part of the conference and the rest for the leading 50 global experts working on misinformation including Al, computing, ethics, epidemiology, ux, design, media, governance and behavioral science.”
“We’ll need to get this to push back against the misinformation that threatens people’s health, now and when a COVID-19 vaccine is available,” Wilhelm said, adding, “If you have any questions or are interested in a more robust role, let’s talk about it.”
Another email from April 13, 2021 appears to indicate CDC “directly making edits into Google’s code for its “Knowledgebase” (pp. 216-221),” as AFL notes.
“We have made the following edits to the JSON+LD markup for the knowledgebase,” CDC’s Scott Mullins wrote to Google staff, showing a “Prevention Tab” that indicates wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and getting a vaccine will all “help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
All of the documents obtained by AFL can be viewed here.
– – –
Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]