Federal judge BANS members of Biden administration from meeting with social media companies over allegations they colluded with executives to create an ‘Orwellian Ministry of Truth’ during COVID and censored conservatives
- The Department of Justice, the FBI and the White House among those who are prohibited from contact
- Ruling a victory for Republicans who argued they were ‘censored’ by Big Tech
- The case involved the Biden White House, Google, Twitter and Meta
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked key Biden administration agencies and 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-appointed Judge Terry A. Doughty said that “during the COVID-19 pandemic… the United States government appears to have assumed a role similar to that of a ‘Department of the “Orwellian” Truth.
The injunction is in response to a lawsuit filed by the Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri alleging 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 address posts they worried could contribute to COVID vaccine hesitancy or swing elections.
Government officials argued that the contact was necessary to combat misinformation or thwart criminal activity. The case involved the White House of President Joe Biden; 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 has barred agencies and officials in President Joe Biden’s administration from talking to social media companies about the content.
The ruling was a victory for Republicans and could curtail efforts to combat false and misleading narratives as Americans prepare for the 2024 presidential election.
Many Republicans, including Trump himself, argued that conservatives were unfairly targeted and posts were removed by social media platforms. They accused big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube of censoring their critics.
The attorneys general, in their filings, said the government’s actions amount to “the most egregious violations of the First Amendment 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 am proud to have led the fight.”
Judge Terry Doughty agreed, ruling that states “have presented evidence of a massive effort by defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”
It ruled out 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, could not speak to social media companies “for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressure or induce”. in any way the removal, elimination, deletion or reduction of content that contains the protected freedom of expression.’
Specifically named as being excluded from contact were Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and all Justice Department and FBI employees.
Companies involved in the case include Twitter, headed by Elon Musk
And Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, headed by Mark Zuckerberg
The judge said agencies and officials could not flag specific posts on social media platforms or request that the content be removed.
The government argued that it did not have the authority to order the removal of entire posts or accounts.
The officials also noted that they have long cooperated 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 track possible terrorist activities.
Neither the White House nor big tech companies immediately commented on the ruling.
Judge Doughty made an exception to allow communication in cases of threats to national security, criminal activity, or voter suppression.