The latest disclosure Elon Musk has enabled since purchasing Twitter this year shows how the federal government directed Twitter and other social media companies to censor various opinions regarding COVID-19, according to documents posted to Twitter Monday.
The records show federal bureaucrats under both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden communicated regularly with top level Twitter employees to censor individual accounts and sculpt public debate around public health policies.
The latest batch of files, which were made available to journalist David Zweig of the Free Press, show that the federal government attempted to cover-up information that did not back its COVID-19 policies, sought to discredit health experts who disagreed with government officials, and suppressed data — including the CDC’s own data.
“The United States government pressured Twitter and other social media platforms to elevate certain content and suppress other content about Covid-19,” Zweig reported on Monday.
Under Trump, the federal government seemed intent on minimizing panic around potential runs on grocery stores.
According to Zweig, the federal directives to censor information came during meetings that also included representatives from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
When the Biden administration took control, the focus of the information operation turned toward accounts that questioned federal claims about the emerging vaccinations, including large accounts like that of Alex Berenson.
“In the summer of 2021, president Biden said social media companies were “killing people” for allowing vaccine misinformation,” Zweig said. “Berenson was suspended hours after Biden’s comments, and kicked off the platform the following month.”
In a December 2022 communication viewed by Zweig, Twitter’s Head of U.S. Public Policy Lauren Culbertson told fellow employees the White House was mad the company wasn’t doing more to deplatform certain accounts.
“Culbertson wrote that the Biden team was “very angry” that Twitter had not been more aggressive in deplatforming multiple accounts,” he wrote. “They wanted Twitter to do more.”
“Twitter did suppress views—many from doctors and scientific experts—that conflicted with the official positions of the White House,” he reported.
“As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing,” he said. According to the documents, Twitter used a combination of content moderation algorithms and Philippines-based contractors to scrub offending content from the site.
You can read his full report from Monday here: