When White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced from the podium earlier this month that the administration had begun “flagging” social media posts about COVID they deemed as misinformation to Facebook, backlash from both conservatives and liberals was swift and harsh.
Conservatives claimed the White House and Facebook were colluding to censor free speech, arguing that the social media giants should have no role in determining who can share their thoughts, and who can’t.
“This is state-sponsored censorship,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News. “It’s the single biggest threat to the First Amendment we’ve ever faced. What’s more, most of the corrupt corporate media is either going along with or encouraging it.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., noted that social media platforms like Facebook should have no role in censoring speech.
“Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are not arbiters of truth and should not flatter themselves by thinking that they are,” he told Fox News. “They should have no role in censoring free speech.”
“Big Tech companies may be accustomed to having monopolies, but they don’t have a monopoly on the truth.” Cotton said. “Their conceited approach must be condemned and combated.”
Facebook faced backlash from the left and mainstream media as well, who thought the platform was not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation.
CNN political commentator Ashley Allison network told anchor Jake Tapper that all the social media platforms have a “responsibility to stop disinformation,” and not just with vaccines.
“Around the census, and the citizen question, around critical race theory, there are like ten people pushing out these disinformation campaigns on these issues, and Facebook historically…has not taken these issues seriously,” she said.
Soon after Psaki’s comments, President Biden told reporters that Facebook was “killing people” by failing to censor misinformation. The Associated Press simply called his comments a “call for big tech to act.”
The Washington Post editorial board went a step further, decrying conservatives seeking to paint Facebook as “unconstitutional censors,” and saying the platform needed to “try harder.”
Sen. Cruz said the media’s failure to take a stance against what he deemed as government censorship is not new, it’s just the latest example of a false narrative Americans were expected to accept as the “gospel truth.”
“It isn’t just that the mainstream media is leaving Americans in the dark with censorship, it’s that they’re helping to turn off all the lights,” he said.
Sen. Cruz further noted there are multiple examples where the media’s overwhelming narrative turned out to be false.
“The Hunter Biden story as Russian disinformation, and anyone who shared it was doing Putin’s bidding, Donald Trump had abandoned our troops by ignoring Russian bounties, and anyone who dared question why the Chinese had a Coronavirus lab in Wuhan was a tin foil conspiracy theorist,” he said.
“Now, we know the media spin on each of these was simply fake news,” Cruz added.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report