Federal judge bans Biden administration from meeting with Big Tech
Federal Judge Bans Biden Administration From Meetings With Social Media Companies Over Allegations They Conspired With Executives To Create An ‘Orwellian Ministry Of Truth’ During COVID And Censored Conservatives
- The Justice Department, FBI, and White House are among those not allowed to contact
- Declaring a victory for Republicans who claimed they were “censored” by Big Tech
- The case involved the Biden White House, Google, Twitter and Meta
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked key government agencies and Biden officials from meeting and communicating with Big Tech companies in an extraordinary ruling that could change the way social media is used.
In his dramatic ruling on Tuesday, Donald Trump appointee Judge Terry A. Doughty said that “during the COVID-19 pandemic … the United States government appears to have assumed a role akin to that of an Orwellian ‘Department of Truth’.
The order comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri alleging that the government engaged in censorship and silenced conservative voices.
The states argued that government officials went too far in their efforts to encourage social media companies to post messages they feared could add to the hesitation over COVID vaccines or disrupt the election.
Government officials argued the contact was necessary to combat misinformation or thwart criminal activity. The case involved President Joe Biden’s White House; Google, led by Sundar Pichai; Twitter led by Elon Musk; and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, led by Mark Zuckerberg.
A judge banned agencies and officials in President Joe Biden’s administration from talking to social media companies about content
The ruling was a victory for Republicans and could hamper efforts to combat false and misleading narratives as Americans prepare for the 2024 presidential election.
Many Republicans, including Trump himself, argued that conservatives were being unfairly targeted and posts were being taken down by social media platforms. They accused Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube of censoring their critics.
The attorneys general said in their filings that the administration’s actions amount to “the most egregious First Amendment violations in the history of the United States of America.”
“Big win for the First Amendment this Independence Day,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt wrote on Twitter. “I’m proud to have led the fight.”
Judge Terry Doughty agreed, ruling that the states “provide evidence of a massive effort by defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”
He ruled that parts of the government — including the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation — couldn’t talk to social media companies with “the goal of urging, encouraging, pressurize or induce”. in any way the removal, removal, suppression or diminution of content containing protected freedom of expression.”
Specifically named as excluded from contact were Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and all Justice Department and FBI employees.
Companies involved in the case include Twitter, led by Elon Musk
And Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, led by Mark Zuckerberg
The judge said the agencies and officials could not flag specific posts on the social media platforms or request the removal of content.
The government argued that it had no authority to have posts or entire accounts deleted.
Officials also noted that they have long collaborated with Big Tech to take action against illegal or harmful material, especially in cases of criminal activity such as child sexual abuse or human trafficking or to detect possible terrorist activity.
Neither the White House nor Big Tech companies immediately commented on the ruling.
Judge Doughty did make an exception to allow communication in the event of threats to national security, criminal activity or voter suppression.