White House Communications Director: Big Tech Should be “Accountable” for Vaccine “Misinformation”

There was an unnerving conversation between between Biden White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski that shows how much ground has been lost on principles of free speech. In an exchange on Morning Joe, Brzezinski asks Bedingfield why Biden has not completed his promised review of Section 230 and create an avenue to held social media companies “accountable in a real way” for spreading “misinformation” about vaccines. Brzezinski ignores not only the constitutional implications of such a move but ignores how such an approach would eviscerate free speech and free press rights.  Equally chilling is the response. Bedingfield agrees and assured Brzezinski that the Biden Administration believes these companies should be held accountable for allowing others to voice doubts or dissenting opinions on such questions.

Bedingfield assures Brzezinski that they are “reviewing” Section 230 and that the Biden Administration does believe that the media companies need to be held “accountable.”

Vaccine “truth” has become the latest means for calling for more censorship from social media companies. It is better than the prior use of election misinformation because now advocates can claim that free speech is actually killing people.  Indeed, President Joe Biden recently declared publicly that Facebook is “killing people” by not censoring free speech.  He later walked back his comments.

Keep in mind that these companies already have the largest censorship system in our history. It is being managed by private corporations but directed to some extent by government officials. Just this week, the White House admitted it has been flagging “misinformation” for Facebook to censor. This outsourcing of censorship allows government officials to do indirectly what they cannot do directly. It creates the specter of a type of shared shadow state.

Facebook only recently announced that people on its platform may discuss the origins of COVID-19, after previously censoring such discussion — but it still bars opposing views on vaccinations and the pandemic. Other companies actively block wayward thoughts and views; last week, YouTube was fined by a German court for censoring videos of protests over COVID restrictions.

When Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey came before the Senate to apologize for blocking the Hunter Biden story before the election as a mistake, senators pressed him and other Big Tech executive for more censorship.

In that hearing, members like Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., HI) pressed witnesses like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey for assurance that Trump would remain barred from speaking on their platforms: “What are both of you prepared to do regarding Donald Trump’s use of your platforms after he stops being president, will be still be deemed newsworthy and will he still be able to use your platforms to spread misinformation?”

Rather than addressing the dangers of such censoring of news accounts, Senator Chris Coons pressed Dorsey to expand the categories of censored material to prevent people from sharing any views that he considers “climate denialism.” Likewise, Senator Richard Blumenthal seemed to take the opposite meaning from Twitter, admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said that he was “concerned that both of your companies are, in fact, backsliding or retrenching, that you are failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” Accordingly, he demanded an answer to this question:

“Will you commit to the same kind of robust content modification playbook in this coming election, including fact checking, labeling, reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps, even for politicians in the runoff elections ahead?”

“Robust content modification” has a certain appeal, like a type of software upgrade. It is not content modification. It is censorship. If our representatives are going to crackdown on free speech, they should admit to being advocates for censorship.

The public however is not entirely sold on censorship on an expanding array of subjects from gender identification to election fraud to criticism of foreign governments. That is why the pandemic is the perfect vehicle for getting a free people to turn against free speech. You simply declare, as did Biden, that free speech kills. It can kill you. You then push companies to censor more under the threat of being held “accountable.”

The fact is that you generally cannot hold people legally “accountable” for saying things that politicians or media figures like Brzezinski do not like about vaccines or climate change or any other controversy. The regulation of companies can offer some regulatory avenues for inducing corporate censorship like threatening to take away immunity if they do not serve as surrogate censors. However, that can also raise constitutional issues both as a question of corporate speech or converting these companies into state actors.

The greatest danger is that these political and media figures are signaling that they want even greater levels of censorship and that these private companies will accommodate them. They already have. The result is the expansion of an already massive censorship system that controls much of our political discourse.

240 thoughts on “White House Communications Director: Big Tech Should be “Accountable” for Vaccine “Misinformation””

  1. And all the while Marx is laughing and Orwell is saying, “Told you so.”

  2. How many of these verifiably true statements would the Biden White House censor as “misinformation” if they could? ——->

    “Still a lot of unknowns about the virus and where it heads, but what is clear:
    1) lockdowns didnt work
    2) masks didnt work
    3) shots were less effective and riskier than promised – to what extent we shall see
    4) There are numerous effective, low risk early treatments being ignored” ~Daniel Horowitz

    1. None of these things are true, and certainly not “clear”. Where do you get this sh^t, anyway? Look at the statistics after masks, lockdowns and working from home. Look at the projections if nothing had been done. The vaccines brought about a dramatic decrease in deaths and illnesses, especially among the elderly and infirm. There were no “promises” about the risks, either– there was disclosure of side-effects and risks just like any other drug or vaccine. Who could “promise” anything about “risks”, other than what studies showed after thousands of doses had been administered? Now, millions of doses have been given, and, for the most part, the side-effects are mild and certainly less than contracting COVID itself.

      There are NO “effective, low-risk early treatments”, either. Do I have to post once again the latest scientific consensus, based on multiple studies, showing that Hydroxychloroquine is ineffective and potentially dangerous? When given for Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, the risks are considered acceptable, given the alternative of no treatment.The only “early treatment” is antibody treatment, which Trump was given even though it didn’t even have emergency use authorization, but it’s still not fully approved, and isn’t cheap, either. Why would the FDA, the CDC, or any other government agency ignore effective, low-risk and low-cost treatments? The things you listed ARE “misinformation”, and it is immoral to publish them because it discourages vaccination, the most-effective way to bring COVID under control. This is why the Delta variant is spreading.

  3. I hope these tech companies enjoy the taste of their own medicine. At the same time, they are cowards, will likely oblige, and unless we use the power we actually still possess and stop supporting them we are headed for a world of hurt. I have to say though, I also find it hilarious that reality has become so distorted for some there is an actual presumption that if something isn’t on Facebook then no one is talking about it.

    It has been clear Silicon Valley has been shady for some time, but I never thought we’d end up *here*. The American Democratic party is a regime, plain and simple. Vote them out while we still can!

    1. James, just wait for when the Democrats think of a way to take Big Tech ‘s “windfall” profit money.

      There is always a scam.

  4. The White House, government generally, should be accountable for misinformation, not limited to marketing, advising, dictating the use of experimental treatments without an established safety profile, and, in fact, a cause of injury and progressive viability (over 10,000 voluntariiy reported). Vaccines, unlike other drugs, have effects that cannot be determined in the short-term and persist over the long-term. Oh, and if they haven’t already, they should close parent/hood corporations, one of the few venues and practices with excess year-over-year elective deaths. Baby Lives Matter (BLM)

    1. should be: close planned parent/hood corporations, venues and practices. A wicked solution for the young and old, alike.

  5. Anyone concerned about violating the First Amendment should also write to your members of Congress or better yet seek relief through the Judicial Branch courts. If you spend the time on social media, also contact your members of Congress and your state’s legislature.

    Although Biden is a good man and well-intended, this is a dangerous precedent. A government entity is essentially “deputizing” a private company to censor on behalf of the government.

    For private company CEOs there is a “non-government” clause to all federal “color of law” criminal statutes when violating core constitutional rights (ie: Title 18 US Code 245). Government agencies can’t simply bypass their constitutional Oath of Office by “farming-it-out” to a private company.

    If Americans willingly and voluntarily surrender our guaranteed constitutional rights, that type of surrender can never be regained. Those rights are lost forever.

    1. Ashcroft,

      “ Government agencies can’t simply bypass their constitutional Oath of Office by “farming-it-out” to a private company.”

      That is true, but it is highly dependent on the specific context in which it “farms it out”.

      Just because government states something should be or ought to be is not a violation of its constitutional obligations or prohibitions. It only matters when government acts or forces.

      Conservatives want to be able to sue social media because of censorship, but as Biden’s comments made it clear it also makes them liable for the misinformation being spread on their platforms thus guaranteeing that they will censor far more.

      1. The Trump party what used to be the republican party, would love to yell fire in a crowded theater and call it free speech.

    2. If Americans willingly and voluntarily surrender our guaranteed constitutional rights, that type of surrender can never be regained. Those rights are lost forever.

      I understand the sentiment, but these rights will always be there regardless of whether they are suspended voluntarily or by force. How long they remain suspended (infringed) will largely depend on how much the American people are willing to suffer. Our founding generation took about 11 years after the end of the 7 years war to begin to take steps to end the abuse by their government. They hadn’t yet had a document like the DoI to articulate their position, they just knew what a government shouldn’t be doing to it’s citizens. Eventually they documented 28 specific grievances to justify becoming an independent nation.

      Progressives did a masterful job of slowly transforming this country over the last 100 years. Then we get GWB and the Patriot Act and things ramped up. Obama stepped it up again and by the end of his presidency, the bureaucracy had been lost to the ideologues. Trump gave us a chance to restore some constitutional order, but he was fighting the administrative state transformed by the previous administration and an opposition party that had lost all connection with the rule of law. The Marxists have taken control over the Democratic party, corporations, mass media, education, and they are working quickly on our military. We are rapidly moving to that 1774 moment in history.

      The People will not be silenced. They will be heard, one way or another.

      1. Olly,

        I see that you are regurgitating the points in Levin’s book. But Levin calls the Democrats “American Marxists,” not “Marxists.” I’ll never call you a Nazi. You are an “American Nazi.”

        1. I see that you are regurgitating the points in Levin’s book.

          Thank you for the compliment. I haven’t finished the book yet, but he’s correct; American Marxists is definitely spot on.

  6. Democrats have never advanced any of their agenda by winning on the battle field of ideas. Censorship is their only option.

  7. Today it’s censorship of covid opinions, but this won’t be a one-off. It’s more like a Trojan horse. And there will be no going back. When governments grab power, they never give it back. Censorship will be a permanent part of American life, thanks to foolish Democrats who are trading freedom of speech for the censoring of opinions they are free to ignore or counter. If the government did a better job at explaining the vaccine and how these types of vaccines work, it could close a lot of gaps between the facts and the myths. But governments always prefer chaos among the people because that gives them a chance to grab even more power. While all Democrat eyes are on Trump, their own demagogues are decimating the Constitution.

    1. . But governments always prefer chaos among the people because that gives them a chance to grab even more power.

      This is so true.

    1. Texas Democrats fled Texas on a private jet and now at least 6 of them are positive for Covid, plus there is a Covid outbreak in the Biden White House and Pelosi’s staff. All of these people are fully vaccinated.

      1. But the CDC is telling people if they are fully vaccinated, they are protected against the Delta variant. But there is a superspreader going on in the Biden White House with fully vaxxed people spreading the Delta variant to each other?

      2. What may be why they test positive is because the virus is in their bodies, but what I’m not hearing is that anyone of them is seriously sick or in a hospital. They may contract the virus. That doesn’t mean they will be affected by it due to the vaccine. What IS most likely is that an unvaccinated individual has been spreading it around.

        It’s still about those unvaccinated individuals who are posing the risk.

        1. “It’s still about those unvaccinated individuals who are posing the risk.”

          You mean like those unvaccinated migrants flooding in through the southern border?

          I know. I know. Some super-spreader events are more equal than others.

    2. “Vaccinated people still have a substantial risk of spreading COVID-19.”
      I think the fully vaccinated Democrats fleeing Texas and spreading Covid around Washington are offering evidence of that.

      Also it is kind of funny that a planeload of sanctimonious, fully vaccinated, maskless, hypocrite Democrats are super spreaders.

  8. Hurry on down to Viet Nam!
    Cause it’s one two three, what r we fighting for?
    Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn.
    Next stop is Viet Nam!
    And it’s five six seven…open up the Pearly Gates.
    Ain’t no time to wonder why…
    Whoopee! We’re all gonna die!

    1. Trump, Trump no bump!
      Banana fanna foe frump.
      Fee fie Moe bump.

      Or:. Moe, Larry, Cheese!

  9. So if and when the vax turns out to have devastating side-effects beyond what we’ve already seen, does Mika propose Big Tech be held liable for spreading misinformation about the safety and efficacy of the vax? Asking for a friend.

    In any case, the pandemic has given governments frothing at the mouth to control their populations more a golden opportunity to do just that. When he came to office in 2009, BHO said he would “fundamentally transform” America. Took his third term and a virus of questionable origins to accomplish that, but he has.

    1. “So if and when the vax turns out to have devastating side-effects beyond what we’ve already seen,”
      What are you talking about? With each passing day I am confident that the unvaccinated who are unvaccinated willingly and not do to a medical condition, deserve to be sick and waiting on the sidewalk outside a hospital that is filled with others that have COVID. if you die, average IQ of the world will increase a bit. With all the unvaccinated dying, it will go up a lot.

      You people are ignorant beyond belief. Your dear leader mr trump got his vaccine in January, your sources over at fox non news all got their vaccines or they wouldn’t be allowed in the building.

      The question is, why do all you ignorant people choose sickness and death over good health? Why do you not only risk your own health, but the health of those around you?

      And don’t give me the microchip, not approved BS.

      Fauci was right, if the vaccine for smallpox or polio came out today, we would not eradicate those diseases.
      Ignorant people deserve the death you get, the innocent people you also infect do not deserve it. Get vaccinated, let’s end this pandemic now.

      1. How do you explain fully vaxxed Texas fleebaggers infecting people in the White House and Congress who are all fully vaxxed?

      2. Fauci isn’t “right” about much. Fauci thinks it is a good idea to require kids over 2 years old to WEAR MASKS ON THEIR FACES ALL DAY LONG WHEN THEY RETURN TO SCHOOL in the fall. No one in their right mind would suggest that is a good idea. No one. It is insanity.

        Two words for parents: Home schooling.

        1. Anon@ 11:16.

          “ Fauci thinks it is a good idea to require kids over 2 years old to WEAR MASKS ON THEIR FACES ALL DAY LONG WHEN THEY RETURN TO SCHOOL in the fall. ”

          Wow, lie much? This is the type of blatant misinformation that is creating these problems. Fauci never said kids over 2 years old are required to wear masks ALL DAY LONG.

          You didn’t even have the courtesy of providing the quote from Fauci. That’s why Fauci was right to call senator Rand Paul a liar.

    2. Suze,

      When man-made global warming hits a runaway greenhouse effect to our economic detriment, may we hold the climate deniers accountable? How?

      People are saying that Obama colluded with George Soros to fund the gain of function research at the Wuhan lab to release the coronavirus to spread to the US in order to cull the herd of Trumpists since polls showed that their hatred of governmental authority would induce them to refuse the vaccine. Obama said he would fundamentally transform America, and by God, he did!

  10. How myopic and naive to think that censoring opposition views on the pandemic will be a one-off. Once this seemingly “good” censorship has been accepted by the majority of the terrified, there will be no end to what government will determine to be “misinformation,” and thus censored. And you can be sure the censorship category will not include any future government misinformation, like WMDs, Russiagate, or how federalizing voting laws benefits the people. The Democrats have found the fundamental weakness in their base — fear of everything. Liberals are on a hair trigger and it takes very little to unnerve them. Couple that with a mindset that all the problems in society are caused by the other party, and you have the perfect social setting for totalitarianism. A corrupt government and a complicit populace — what could possibly go wrong?

  11. I thought the reason we have government is to protect us from reading or hearing any misinformation.

  12. As usual, the comments devolve to hatred of all things Trump. Turley’s piece is about freedom of speech, before, during and after the era of Trump. This is crucially important to the survival of our republic, but no one seems to care. They are bogged down in pursuing and shoring up their narratives in the moment …. apparently oblivious to the vast consequences.

    This is not about whether we like what people say, it is about their right to say it.

  13. This is beyond the pale and very dangerous. When a well known radical group who has received at least a hundred million dollars in corporate donations commented on the brutal, totalitarian Cuban dictatorship, they blamed the United States!! Who does that?

    We exist because we can and do have spirited arguments. “Group think” is unchallenged thinking.

    We have our differences, our spats and come from different experiences but we still remain united in common causes. Like the passengers of Flight 93. They were of all ages and ethnic origins and occupations, but when they understand what they had to do, they united and worked together knowing they would likely die on their mission.

    Since when do we trust the government? They told us that going to Vietnam was in our best interest. It was the loud and vocal protests of the people who said, “No!”

    We all should be experts at detecting bulls*** by this point in time. We have to shovel enough of it in this age of information and misinformation overload.

  14. Turley is now dealing with the inevitable truth. Companies can and will eventually censor misinformation about the vaccine or anything that is causing harm.

    Conservatives have been calling for the repeal of section 230, for the removal of liability protections. Now Turley seems to be pointing out how this can be used to hold social media accountable for the misinformation being spread. That will undoubtedly lead to censorship anyway because it’s an incentive to avoid liability.

    Turley has to realize that his “free speech” crusade has limits and it seems he’s unaware that it’s right in front of him.

    The constitution provides no prohibition from censorship by private companies if they choose to. It is more likely they will exercise that right more forcefully with the removal of liability protections.

    Trump still has no case because ultimately he has no right to force someone else to carry his message. Trump had the opportunity to create his own platform and it failed spectacularly just as his many “businesses ideas” have.

    There will be more shut downs and mask mandates coming and the blame will land squarely with those who are spreading misinformation and those refusing to vaccinate. It’s already happening in Los Angeles and people will not have any more patience for the ignorance of the unvaccinated.

  15. Lefties are OK with Chinese, Iranian, and other authoritarians having a Twitter platform, but were delighted when Trump was silenced.

    The Left has crossed into lunacy.

    Reading Natacha’s unhinged rants and EB’s sullen anger and I realize that these Lefties are on the fringe.

    They do not reflect America’s beliefs.

    1. Monumentcolorado,

      “ Lefties are OK with Chinese, Iranian, and other authoritarians having a Twitter platform, but were delighted when Trump was silenced.”

      Facebook and Twitter are not required to operate in China or iran. But they ARE subject to THEIR laws if they want to operate in their countries.

      Here Facebook and Twitter have the protections afforded to them by the constitution.

      Trump has no constitutional rights to be on Twitter or Facebook. A private company CAN censor or prohibit the president or any politician from their platform. It’s quite simple really. Trump had a platform of his own and it failed. Trump only wants to be on Twitter and Facebook because it gives him access to millions instead of the paltry number of people that used his failed platform.

      Trump has no constitutional right to be on Twitter or Facebook.

  16. Daniel…..are you being obtuse on purpose?

    When Government works hand in glove with Big Tech in censoring posts by subscribers….the melding and willing participation of those organizations clearly triggers challenges to their conduct under the First Amendment.

    What part of “Free Speech” do you not understand?

    The concept is simple…..the People under our system of government set up by the Constitution are protected in their ability to speak out about Government…..be it true and factual lr pure fantasy….no matter who that Person is….poorest dirt farmer or the richest person in the Country.

    It has probably escaped your notice but the Press…now called the Media were granted special protections by the Constitution and Federal Law…..just so it (The Media) could be purveyors of “truth” and thus be able to speak out about government excess, corruption, and misfeasance as well as malfeasance.

    We have to ask why Democrat Officials from the President right on down the likes of Swalwell, Schiff, Nadler, Blumenthal et al are demanding Censorship….and calling it that….of those who speak against their agenda and conduct.

    You tell us in a few sentences why there should be any tolerance whatsoever by a Citizen for government attempting to stop dissenting voices from being heard in this Country whose very freedoms include that Right under the Constitution…..we will wait for your reply!

  17. The Demo-fascists are now in control of Joe Biden and the political power in the US. And that’s almost entirely because these technocrats censored the truth for 4 years – about Covid, about Trump and his policies, about Biden, about Hunter’s international extortion, about the actual meaning of equity, about BLM, about perpetual race riots in Portland-Seattle-St. Louis-MN.

    The Demo-fascists know that without wielding these propaganda machines and censoring those who believe in freedom, democracy, capitalism, and the inherent virtue of the USA, they can’t win. Americans are far better than the left/progressives who are in almost direct opposition to the values of the US. Unfortunately for 30 years, centrist Democrats allowed the usurpation of their party by these Demo-fascists and now they are one and the same. Unless good Americans fight this Demo-fascist party, there is little hope for the COnstitutional America we had.

    1. Agree, but most Americans are unaware of what is truly happening thanks to a complicit media that once could be counted upon–more or less–to hold government and corporations accountable. And the government under the cabal that puts the words into the Potemkin president’s mouth is counting on just that. We are well into America’s Cultural Revolution. When I was growing up and studying Mao’s version, I always took comfort that such a thing could not happen here because of our free press. I never counted on the press being complicit and no one ever envisioned such powerful tech companies being the aiders and abettors of the government.

  18. It would be interesting to see Professor Turley’s analysis of Trump’s legal claims. Trump argues that FB and other social media companies have in effect become arms of the state, through their cozy relationships with health bureaucrats and pressure from Democratic Party politicians. Because of this, they are subject to 1st Amendment restrictions on censorship in the same way the state is. The WSJ has hosted a couple of op-Eds, and Glenn Greenwald wrote an article some time ago, arguing that a line of cases supports this argument.

    1. Thank you for posting that! It is an excellent article by a brilliant man. I have his “Is Administrative Law Unlawful” and it is a careful analysis that goes deeply into the roots of law.


      Gary Lawson, the author of several authoritative textbooks on administrative law praises it in his article: “The Return of the King”


      I have said in previous comments that I suspected that Section 230 is not the perfect barrier that big tech acts like it is. They have strayed too far from the type of operation that Section 230 is intended to protect. It takes people like Professor Hamburger to probe for and discover its weaknesses.

      Thank you again for posting that article.

  19. Are we still talking about the “experimental vaccine” or did it somehow become something different? Misinformation about an unapproved, experimental vaccine vs. truthful information about an experimental vaccine? Does anyone else see this whole thing as beyond the pale? Are people really taking this experimental vaccine? God, help us.

    1. Yes, the vaccines authorized for emergency use without a well-established (i.e. decade or more testing, since the effects are progressive) safety profile and efficacy, in the absence of natural immunity and inexpensive, effective, safe alternative treatments that have been used over decades, globally.

      1. Can you please publish your data and research — it could just wrap up this entire debate!

        1. The data and research have been published and available to public access. The procedure and protocol for drugs and vaccine development are well established, and the reasoning for short and long-term (e.g. vaccines) trials are well understood. The data and research for our current situation are available through the CDC, VAERS, English Health, reporting from Israel, control trials, etc. A good resource is market-ticker.org, where the administrator has organized and presented the data, research, and science with citations.

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