An angry Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared to suggest social media users’ First Amendment right to free speech and expression should not apply to certain subjects when she lashed out against Facebook and others over posts containing COVID-19 “misinformation.”
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, the Minnesota Democrat was asked to respond to a video clip of President Joe Biden telling a reporter he believes that “Facebook is killing people” by allowing certain information about the virus on its platform.
“Social media has greatly contributed to this misinformation. There’s no doubt. Look at the numbers from the Kaiser Foundation,” Klobuchar said, citing a recent survey from the health policy organization.
“Two-thirds of the people who have not gotten vaccinated say because they’ve gotten something off social media. Come on. So I really appreciate President Biden calling this out,” she added.
Klobuchar said she feels “very strongly” about pushing back against so-called misinformation because those who are dying the most, according to data, are “tragically dying.”
“Enough is enough. These are the richest companies in the world. There’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be able to monitor this better and take this crap off of their platforms,” Klobuchar insisted.
She then called on Republicans as well as anyone else who did not vote for Biden to start telling “the truth” about COVID vaccines in an effort to convince more Americans to take the jab. She also said she is in favor of using current anti-trust laws to break up the big tech giants in order to encourage more competition.
“But it is also about the misinformation out there on the social media platforms and breaking them up,” she told Bash.
“Part of this is that they gobbled up so many companies that you don’t even have the chance that other media platforms could do this on social media. So I am a fan of using anti-trust to look back and see if they should divest assets so we could get true competition against the dominant platforms,” she added.
But Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) disagreed in a letter to Biden Friday that was obtained by Fox News. In it, Blackburn admonished the president over revelations that his administration is working with Facebook to take down COVID “misinformation,” which she indicated is any information the White House says is incorrect, not information that is factually untrue.
“These revelations are deeply concerning,” the Tennessee Republican wrote. “The blatant actions by your administration to work with Big Tech companies to censor Americans’ free speech are shocking – and arguably a violation of the First Amendment.”
Her letter came after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing last week that the administration was working with the social media behemoth on COVID content messaging.
“As you all know, information travels quite quickly. If it’s up there for days and days and days,” Psaki said. “When people see it, you know, there’s, it’s hard to put that back in a box, and of course, promoting quality information algorithms, I don’t know how they work, but they all do know how they work.”
Blackburn, who requested a briefing by Aug. 2 on the matter, asked, “What criteria are you directing social media platforms to use to flag and remove posts? What criteria are you directing social media platforms to use to ban users?
“What is the legal basis for your Administration’s decision to direct social media platforms to flag and remove posts from their sites?” she continued. “Does the White House have staff dedicated to searching social media for content to flag for removal?”
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