The FBI Oversteps With Big Tech

FBI Facebook

Last Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience to talk about Facebook’s moderation of controversial content. During this interview, Rogan pressed the billionaire about how big tech platforms should handle content moderation on sensitive topics. Zuckerberg began to open up about controversial media suppression, revealing some shocking details surrounding the Hunter Biden Story.

Facebook Suppresses Reporting on Hunter Biden’s Laptop 

The Facebook CEO has been open about his regrets surrounding the Hunter Biden Story. Zuckerberg compares their actions to a criminal trial, finding out the accused was innocent the entire time. During the interview, Zuckerberg explained why Facebook decided to decrease the distribution of the Hunter Biden scandal. 

Facebook decided to limit access to the article after the FBI told Meta that they should beware of “Russian Propaganda” prior to the 2020 election. The agency told Meta to be vigilant. So, when the New York Post broke the Hunter Biden Laptop story, Facebook labeled the content as potential misinformation for a week for fact-checkers. 

When Rogan asked Zuckerberg if the FBI directly asked him to be on guard for the Hunter Biden story, the Facebook CEO said “No. I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern.” 

While Zuckerberg seemingly expressed regret for the suppression, the Facebook CEO emphasized that they did not remove the story entirely unlike other platforms. 

The FBI Responds to Claims of Interference

After Mark Zuckerberg’s interview, it did not take long for the FBI to respond. Once the episode was released, the FBI already had a statement. However, instead of denying Zuckerberg’s claims, the agency admitted to its actions and attempted to justify them. According to the statement, the FBI “routinely notifies U.S. private sector entities, including social media providers, of potential threat information, so that they can decide how to better defend against threats." 

The agency remarks that this is meant to prevent abuse from foreign influences. Furthermore, the FBI claimed that they would continue their actions, stating: 

The FBI will continue to work closely with federal, state, local, and private sector partners to keep the public informed of potential threats, but the FBI cannot ask, or direct, companies to take action on information received

The problem is that the FBI telling people about “potential threat information” already puts a burden and pressure to comply. While the earlier statement suggests that providers can choose how to act, the FBI already implies what they want these providers to do. One word about Russian information had Facebook limit information about the Hunter Biden Laptop, only to realize it was entirely true. Zuckerberg admitted this mindset in the interview stating:

Hey, look, if the FBI — which I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s very professional law enforcement — they come to us and tell us we need to be on guard about something, I want to take that seriously

Whether you buy Mark Zuckerburg’s act or not, the FBI’s response is disingenuous in this instance. They already had Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Suppression of “Controversial Media”

The Hunter Biden Laptop scandal proves that the FBI was involved in the suppression of “controversial media.” The FBI has already been guilty of not investigating the laptop and now they have been caught trying to bury the story under the guise of “Russian propaganda.” However, it opens up more questions. At what lengths will the FBI go to “protect against threat information” and exactly at whom’s behest?

In this case, the FBI already knew the information on that laptop wasn’t produced for Russian propaganda. Either that or they are the most incompetent law enforcement agency on the planet. No one believes that. Regardless, the FBI will face even more scrutiny now.

Republican Outrage

After the interview, GOP senators have given a formal demand to Facebook to turn over FBI communication involving the Hunter Biden story. In addition key members of congress are speaking up. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority leader vowed to hold them accountable, and Sen. Josh Hawley pointed out that this is just another example of FBI interference in the 2020 presidential election by tweeting:

“This same agency effectively laundered Russian disinfo in the 2016 election in the form of Steele dossier. And later lied to a court to get wiretaps.”

Hopefully, this is more than just lip service by our elected representatives. It’s looking like the 2022 midterms will give the Republicans a chance to prove it.

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