Questions regarding the Biden administration’s suspected role in cooperating with social media corporations to restrict disfavored viewpoints were raised again with the release of the second batch of the ” Twitter Files ”
Files published on Thursday revealed that Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University, was blacklisted by Twitter due to his opinions on COVID-19, along with Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, conservative pundit Dan Bongino, and Chaya Raichik, the owner of Libs of TikTok.
In a previous lawsuit, Bhattacharya accused the Biden administration of colluding with social media corporations to silence scientific debate on the COVID-19 policies. Name-checking it as the “Ministry of Truth,” he entered a lawsuit in June along with Missouri and Louisiana’s top lawyers.
Bhattacharya talked with Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham on Thursday night, after learning that his account had been placed on a trending blacklist, presumably for saying that lockdowns would be harmful to children.
“It’s ludicrous, and it truly harms public health,” he added. “It feels like some novel from the 1950s where the House Un-American Committee is gathering to select who to suppress and I’m some type of movie star in Hollywood that they’re blacklisting because I’m a communist or something.”
The professor continued, saying that he believes “quite firmly” that government involvement was at play and that actual harm was caused by silencing the conversation.
He remarked on the show, “If we had an open conversation, Laura, the schools would not have closed in the fall of 2020. If we had an open discussion, Laura, the lockdowns would have been lifted much earlier because the data and evidence behind them was so awful.”
Including scientists from Oxford and Harvard, Bhattacharya was one of the three principal signers of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020, which urged for “targeted protection” for those most at risk from the sickness, with the rest of society functioning more or less normally.
The former director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, was quoted as saying that the notion needed a “rapid and devastating written takedown,” which was discovered through FOIA requests.
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Conservatives have long criticized the Biden administration for its alleged efforts to restrict voices on the Right, including its partnership with social media platforms and initiatives like the ultimately unsuccessful Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Governance Board. However, Will Duffield of the Cato Institute says that while the additional Twitter files do lend credence to this story, they are by no means conclusive.
So far, the Twitter Files are “sort of a mixed bag,” he added. It exemplifies how moderation techniques designed for one purpose can spread to other, more politically contentious domains without public debate or deliberation, so undermining confidence.
However, Duffield said that the most recent batch reveals very little about any specific government participation. He suggests that the White House should respond to the scandal by making public any communications between the campaign and Twitter concerning COVID-19 and the now-famous Hunter Biden laptop.
At the outset of the pandemic, both the Trump and the Biden administrations assumed sweeping new powers that they have been slow to surrender.
President Joe Biden is still fighting for policies, including the student loan moratorium, that he originally supported during the pandemic but have since been revoked by a judge’s pen. In spite of Joe Biden’s promises to the contrary, the Senate yesterday voted 62-36 to repeal the state of emergency giving the president unprecedented powers.
Critics of the newfound authority argue it has led to increased censorship.
On November 3, Republican members of the House Oversight Committee wrote, “We write to continue our investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to stifle lawful First Amendment-protected speech of American citizens in public online settings.” “The Biden Administration continues to suppress free speech and discredit legitimate criticism as mis-, dis-, or mal- information,” they added.
When the Republicans take over in the House and Senate in January, they have promised to hold hearings and conduct investigations.
On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to questions regarding the administration’s involvement in Twitter filtering by saying, “We were not involved.”
Jake Denton, a research assistant at the Heritage Foundation, felt that the latest batch of Twitter Files demonstrated an expansive censoring attempt.
Denton, who was himself temporarily suspended from Twitter, described the situation as “an established censorship machinery.” “I think what Dr. Bhattacharya is stating is entirely right; I think the only question that remains is the extent to which the Biden administration was actually complicit in the censorship.”
Denton, like Duffield, has demanded that the White House provide its own set of files so that the public can get the whole picture.
The Biden administration “should disclose the amount to which they have cooperated with Silicon Valley to create the story” if they are aware of communications that are expected to come out, he said. If they have any moral compass at all, they will come forward ahead of the news cycle.