Biden’s Lapdog: Emails Expose YouTube as White House’s Gold Standard of Censorship

YouTube, the famous video-sharing platform, was shockingly co-opted by the Biden White House to become the gold standard of censorship. 

On May 1, the House Judiciary Committee’s Select Weaponization of Government Subcommittee released a voluminous report exposing lengthy correspondence between the White House and Facebook, YouTube and Amazon. 

YouTube’s team was particularly receptive to the demands of the administration and was touted by Biden officials as an exemplar to prod other companies, specifically Facebook. 

Meta Director of Global Engagement Nick Clegg stated that Senior White House Coronavirus Advisor Andy Slavitt informed him about attending a “misinfo” meeting where “the consensus was that FB [Facebook] is a ‘disinformation factory.’” In contrast to Meta, Slavitt claimed that YouTube “has made significant advances to remove content leading to vaccine hesitancy whilst” the Mark Zuckerberg-owned platforms “lagged behind.”

Leaked emails show that YouTube’s relationship with the Biden administration began in January 2021. Early on, Biden officials like White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty expressed an interest in YouTube’s content moderation policies, specifically around vaccine hesitancy.

On April 12, 2021, Flaherty sent an email to YouTube to inquire about the company’s acts to stifle dissenting opinions on vaccines.

“Heya – A while ago, I met with folks from Google about misinformation and COVID-19,” Flaherty wrote. “Was hoping to connect again with folks from your side about the work you’re doing to combat vaccine hesitancy, but also crack down on vaccine misinformation.”

   

The following day, on April 13, a Google employee communicated to a coworker instructions to add to the “Feb COVID19 Misinformation Deck” and referenced a meeting with Flaherty in which the White House official expressed a keen interest in “borderline content.”

A Google calendar invite sent to Flaherty references a meeting with YouTube on April 21 titled “YouTube Vaccine Misinfo Meeting.” The topic of the briefing was “general trends seen around vaccine misinformation” and “the empirical effects of YouTube’s efforts to combat misinfo, what interventions YouTube is currently trying, and ways the White House (and our COVID experts) can partner in product work.”

According to Flaherty, the concerns about vaccine hesitancy were a matter of nationwide policy concern and reflected the personal desires of President Biden himself. 

“But we want to make sure that you have a handle on vaccine hesitancy generally and are working towards making the problem better,” Flaherty wrote in an April 21 email. “This is a concern that is shared at the highest (and I mean highest) levels of the WH, so we’d like to continue a good-faith dialogue about what is going on under the hood here. I’m on the hook for reporting out.”

Internal emails from Google’s team reveal that Flaherty was very hands-on with YouTube’s censorship activities and was prodding them to go even further to eliminate dissenting views.

“It’s worth noting this quote from WH Digital Director Rob Flaherty (Who, as this group knows, has been tough on us at times)…” a Google employee mentioned.


 

Occasionally, the YouTube team would be actively threatened by Flaherty and had their motives called into question, other emails show.

In a July 20, 2021 email, Flaherty demanded accountability from YouTube after a CNN fact-checker tweeted a screenshot that showed “anti-vaccine” content. One of the suggested videos was a debate on vaccines between legal scholar Alan Dershowitz and environmentalist attorney (now Independent presidential candidate) Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

“We had a pretty extensive back and forth about the degree to which you all are recommending anti-vaccination content,” Flaherty said. “You were pretty emphatic that you are not. This seems to indicate that you are. What is going on here?”

In one instance, Flaherty also requested that YouTube actively propagandize by promoting the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Now that the FDA has approved Pfizer, I’m making the rounds to get a sense from the various platforms how (or if) folks are planning to promote it in any way,” Flaherty wrote.

“We’d appreciate a push here, given the fact that this is an oft-cited blocker for many folks,” he added. 

The influence of the Biden White House was so pervasive at YouTube that its Trust and Safety Team actually sent a draft of its new content moderation policies for vaccine content to the White House for final approval.

“Our YouTube Trust and Safety Team is working to finalize a new policy to remove content that could mislead people on the safety and efficacy of vaccines,” said an email sent from a Google employee to Flaherty. “We would like to preview our policy proposal for you and get any feedback you may have. Are you available to meet this Friday (9/24) or Monday (9/27)?” 

Coordination between the White House and YouTube was not limited to vaccines, however. Other subjects that the White House pushed to be censored included “Russian misinformation,” “climate misinformation” and “reproductive health misinformation” (abortion).

The May 1 report also uncovered that the Biden administration exerted similar pressure on Facebook and Amazon. Like YouTube, Facebook changed its content moderation policies as a result of applied pressure from the Biden White House. Amazon, while not a social media platform, changed its usual practices to suppress books on its website that questioned vaccines or other COVID narratives.  

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable

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