America First Legal (AFL), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC that works to defend American citizens from unconstitutional government overreach, released documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealing evidence of collusion between the CDC and major social media corporations to censor free speech on the COVID-19 pandemic and promote a COVID narrative set forth by federal government agencies.1 2
White House Admitted To Working With Facebook to Limit “Misinformation” in 2021
In 2021, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration was working in collaboration with Facebook to limit misinformation on COVID vaccines.3 Psaki stated:
So we’re regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives, dangerous to public health that we and many other Americans are seeing across all of social and traditional media. And we work to engage with them to better understand the enforcement of social media platform policies.4
Psaki also said that if a user is banned for spreading “misinformation” on one social media platform, they should be banned from all other social media platforms as well.5 She noted that the federal government does not directly get involved in controlling information on social media sites but that social media companies make those decisions. Psaki said:
We don’t take anything down. We don’t block anything, Facebook, and any private sector company makes decisions about what information should be on their platform. Our point is that there is information that is leading to people not taking the vaccine.6
America First Legal Sues CDC to Release Records on Censorship
Following Psaki’s press conference in 2021, AFL submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for documents, records and communications relating to the Biden administration decision to direct social media companies to censor speech pertaining to the COVID pandemic on their platforms.7
Stephen Miller, President of AFL stated:
Jen Psaki has unwittingly confirmed a shocking truth: the White House is using massive Big Tech companies as a censorship arm of the federal government. If true, this means that Big Tech censorship is state censorship and thus facially unconstitutional. There is no dividing line between government and big tech—it is an incestuous union, and you cannot tell where one ends and one begins… AFL is filing these urgent FOIA requests so the full scope of this earth-shaking scandal will be revealed—and so that, in turn, this unconstitutional behavior can be ended.8
The FOIA requests were delayed, after which AFL took further action and filed a lawsuit against the CDC on Apr. 8, 2022 to the release all information in order to assess CDC’s collaboration with social media companies in determining what it deemed as COVID “misinformation”.9
Gene Hamilton, Vice President and General Counsel of AFL said:
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. The federal government is not the arbiter of truth for the American people.10
High Level Coordination Between CDC and Social Media Corps to Censor COVID Information
After filing the lawsuit, AFL was able to obtain 286 pages of documents revealing communications between federal agencies and social media companies on how to censor information on COVID on their platforms. The documents can be found here.11
The documents reveal that CDC worked very closely with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google to control information about COVID. An e-mail between CDC and Todd O’Boyle, Senior Manager of Public Policy at Twitter and other Twitter officials showed a chart of tweets deemed to be “misinformation”. The same email mentions regular BOLO (Be On the Look Out) meetings where CDC would share what they categorized as “misinformation” with various social media companies.12
In another e-mail, CDC stated to Twitter officials that any contextual information should be added to posts about Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) such as “VAERS accepts reports from anyone, including patients, family members, healthcare providers and vaccine manufacturers. VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event. A report to VAERS does not mean the vaccine caused the event.”13
Facebook Offered DHHS Millions in Free Ads to Promote COVID Vaccines, Social Distancing
The CDC also emailed a list of links to Facebook officials to flag as “misinformation.” The agency said that it observed considerable “misinformation” on topics relating to COVID vaccine shedding and microchips that they wanted to censor.14 The documents also show an e-mail in which Facebook officials offered $15 million worth of Facebook advertisement credits as a “non-monetary gift” to HHS and CDC for messages relating to vaccines, social distancing and travel.15
In another e-mail, the CDC asked Google officials to promote their new website on COVID vaccines to appear first on their search engine. In another e-mail, the CDC requested Google to post an advertisement for a job position at the CDC.16
Request for Investigation Into CDC & Big Tech’s “Covert Propaganda” Campaign
On Aug. 2, 2022, AFL wrote a letter to Christi A. Grimm, Inspector General of HHS requesting an investigation into the collaboration between the CDC and social media companies. The letter states:
Accordingly, we now write to request that your office investigate the U.S. Department of Health Human Services (“Department”) to determine whether the Department, through its agency the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), has colluded with social media companies, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and digital marketing firms, including Reingold, to unlawfully disseminate covert propaganda.17
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1 America First Legal. Mission.
2 America First Legal. AFL LAWSUIT REVEALS DAMNING CDC DOCUMENTS PROVING GOVERNMENT COLLUSION WITH BIG TECH TO CENSOR FREE SPEECH AND PROMOTE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PROPAGANDA. July 27, 2022.
3 Colton E. Psaki says administration is working with Facebook to limit misinformation. Fox Business July 16, 2021.
7 America First Legal. FOLLOWING DISTURBING ADMISSION BY BIDEN WHITE HOUSE, AFL FOIAS THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ABOUT ITS DIRECTIONS TO SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES TO CENSOR AMERICANS. July 16, 2021.
9 American First Legal. AFL SUES CDC TO GET ANSWERS ABOUT THE BIDEN ADMIN WORKING WITH BIG TECH TO CENSOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Apr. 11, 2022.
10 Berry S. Documents Reveal CDC, Big Tech Colluded to Promote Biden Administration’s COVID Propaganda. The Virginia Star July 30, 2022.
11 America First Legal. AFL LAWSUIT REVEALS DAMNING CDC DOCUMENTS PROVING GOVERNMENT COLLUSION WITH BIG TECH TO CENSOR FREE SPEECH AND PROMOTE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PROPAGANDA. July 27, 2022.
17 American First Legal. AFL REQUESTS INSPECTOR GENERAL INVESTIGATION INTO CDC COLLUSION WITH BIG TECH TO PUSH COVERT COVID-19 PROPAGANDA Aug. 3, 2021.