Michael Goodwin: Biden's Big Tech blunder – here's how admin's actions threatening First Amendment

Biden’s demand to social media carries implicit threat of government compulsion

Any assessment of Joe Biden’s performance last week runs into an obstacle. While it was awful from start to finish, the hard part is ­deciding which was the absolute worst moment. 

Was it the president’s latest attack on state voting law reforms, which he bizarrely called "the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War"? 

Was it the administration’s outrageous invitation for the pampered popinjays at the United Nations to sit in judgment of America’s racial strife? 


Or perhaps it was Biden’s decision to push a one-party spending spree of trillions of dollars even as inflation levels reached their highest mark in 13 years? 

Under almost any president, each of those events would qualify as a low point. But Biden is proving to be spectacularly awful at his job, and he did something else that captures the award for the week’s Worst of the Worst. 


Friday, the president accused Facebook of "killing people" and demanded it silence those opposed to or questioning the coronavirus vaccines. 

Coming from the president, this is a breathtaking accusation and demand. 

It far exceeds anything Donald Trump ever said or did. Trump wrongly called some media "the enemy of the people," but never accused them of actually "killing people." 

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But Biden has – recklessly – and no doubt assumes the lapdog news media will echo his charge. 

Notably, Facebook’s defense is that it is silencing as many people as it can find who question or criticize the vaccines. That’s hardly a defense of free speech, but rather shows Big Tech fundamentally agrees with Biden’s goal. They just differ on the success rate. 

The alarming approach first emerged with a Wednesday report in Politico about White House plans to fight what it sees as "misinformation" on COVID vaccinations. 

That sounds potentially benign – until you get to this part of the story: "Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages." 

Whoa, Nellie. The White House and the DNC are going to monitor and "dispel misinformation" on social media and private text messages? And work with congenitally-corrupt "fact checkers"? 

My first reaction was this can’t be true. 

So the government is not only "flagging" people it doesn’t like, it’s also helping to "boost trusted content." 

Sadly, it is true. Jen Psaki, whose job as press secretary is devoted to making the outlandish sound routine, elaborated on the plan Thursday and confirmed it’s already in operation. 

"Within the Surgeon General’s Office, we’re flagging posts for Facebook that spread disinformation," Psaki said. "We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect medical experts with people, who are popular with their audiences, with accurate information and boost trusted content. So, we’re helping get trusted content out there." 

So the government is not only "flagging" people it doesn’t like, it’s also helping to "boost trusted content." 

"It’s important to take faster action against harmful posts," Psaki added. "As you all know, information travels quite quickly on social media platforms. Sometimes it’s not accurate, and Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts." 

Her words, "not accurate" and "harmful violative posts," are so vague as to give the government an open-ended license to push Facebook and other platforms to censor almost anything somebody in the White House doesn’t like. 

It might start with disagreements over COVID, but why would it end there? Suppose there’s a story about, oh, let’s take a wild stab and say the foreign business interests of the president’s son that also implicate the president. 

Might there be any pressure on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others to block the story from being shared? Does any of this sound familiar? 

Or, more simply, how about the fact that today’s "misinformation" on COVID is tomorrow’s approved "information?" 

Recall that government officials, including the unreliable weathervane, Dr. Anthony Fauci, switched directions so many times it’s hard to say with certainty what the latest official line is. 

If that weren’t bad enough, Psaki dug a deeper hole Friday by arguing that people banned from one social media platform should also be banned from others. Her proposal effectively urges the companies to create a unified ban against American citizens. 

On top of Biden’s inflammatory accusation, her remarks and the government’s actions make it clear we are far down the slippery slope. 

There’s already one example of the potential impacts. The Post’s expose on Hunter Biden’s laptop last October was blocked by Big Tech for two crucial weeks while voting in the presidential election was underway. 

Later, a poll found most voters were not aware of the stories and some 8 percent said they would have voted differently had they known the facts. 

That restriction was done for partisan purposes by private companies. Imagine if the government had demanded the blackout, as it is doing now on vaccines and who knows what else. 

The First Amendment protects the right to disagree with the government. But two developments are converging that make this moment so ominous. 

First, the Big Tech platforms are so huge that they really operate as monopolies. When they work together as one, as they did in squelching the Hunter Biden stories, they have almost absolute power to shape events. They even silenced Trump when he was president, a blackout that continues. 

Second, some Democrats and others on the left embrace the cancel culture habit of silencing dissent. What started on college campuses has metastasized into a national phenomenon, with even large companies insisting that some routine disagreements are intolerable and must be banned. 


And now we have the government endorsing these developments and trying to unite them. The effort is not a mere suggestion, as Biden’s demand to the social media platforms carries an implicit threat of government compulsion. 

As such, the administration is moving toward gutting the First Amendment and controlling private companies. That’s a new low, even for Biden.