Dr. Anthony Fauci colluded with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on distributing government-approved information on COVID-19 across the social media platform. In a series of March 2020 emails obtained by BuzzFeed News, Zuckerberg invited the infectious disease doctor to partake in the company’s newly developed informational program on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This isn’t public yet, but we’re building a Coronavirus Information Hub that we’re going to put at the top of Facebook for everyone (200+ million Americans, 2.5 billion people worldwide) with two goals: (1) make sure people can get authoritative information from reliable sources and (2) encourage people to practice social distance and give people ideas for doing this using internet tools,” the March 15 email read. “This will be live within the next 48 hours.”
Zuckerberg continued, stating that “As a central part of this hub, I think it would be useful to include a video from you because people trust and want to hear from experts rather than just a bunch of agencies and political leaders. ”
Not the usual catchall b(5) deliberative process here.. but a less common b(4) "trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential" on Zuck's offer to Fauci.
Was this the offer to censor wrongthink??? pic.twitter.com/UyoC1WSES8
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) June 2, 2021
Zuckerberg suggested interviewing Fauci on one of his Facebook Q&A livestreams, while also noting his continued efforts to spread “authoritative information” across the social media platform. An additional offer to Fauci is fully redacted, however.
In his response dated March 17, Fauci praised Zuckerberg’s planned COVID-19 information hub, while also expressing his willingness to cooperate with the tech giant.
“Your idea and proposal sound terrific. I would be happy to do a video for your hub,” Fauci said. “We need to reach as many people as possible and convince them to take mitigation strategies seriously or things will get much, much worse. Also, your idea about [REDACTED] is very exciting.”
While the nature of Zuckerberg’s additional offer to Fauci remains unknown, the redactions in question are classified as a b(4) exemption under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which permits agencies to redact “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person which is privileged or confidential.”
Over the course of the pandemic, Facebook has taken on an increasingly active role in censoring COVID-related information deemed “fake news” by government health officials. In February, the company announced that it would be ramping up efforts to remove any “false claims” about COVID-19 vaccines on its platforms.
“Today, we are expanding our efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines in general during the pandemic,” the tech giant stated. ”Since December, we’ve removed false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts. Today, following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines.”
The company also recently announced that it would be lifting its ban on posts claiming COVID-19 was man-made. The move only came after President Joe Biden stated that his intelligence community was examining the origins of the virus.