OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Big Brother under the Biden administration is getting bigger and more frightening as it has unveiled its plans to further police social media.
The administration admitted last week that it has flagged problem posts to Facebook that, it says, contain vaccine misinformation and the Democrats are seizing on the opportunity and pushing a bill that would place the Department of Health and Human Services in charge of labelling misinformation posts The Daily Mail reported.
“What we’re going to continue to do is make the vaccine available, we’re going to continue to work in partnership to fight misinformation and we’re going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and entrusted voices to get the word out,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week.
Experts in online manipulation say the strategy is wrongheaded and the impact of misinformation is exaggerated.
Three times factcheckers called the president out for making misleading statements, most notably in saying: ‘You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,’ even as his own White House deals with ‘breakthrough’ cases of infection among staff.
The missteps triggered a fresh chorus from opponents saying the White House was ill-equipped to take on the role of factchecker-in-chief when even the president stumbled over the truth about the virus.
And Democrats now want to do something that President Donald Trump said he wanted to do, pare back Section 230 protections.
The Health Misinformation Act, as it is named, is co-sponsored Democrat Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico.
“Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, digital platforms have legal immunity from liability for the content users post. The law—which was intended to promote online speech and allow online services to grow—now distorts legal incentives for platforms to respond to digital misinformation on critical health issues, like Covid-19, and leaves people who suffer harm with little to no recourse,” the press release said.
“The Health Misinformation Act would create an exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act’s liability shield for platforms with algorithms that promote health-related misinformation related to an existing public health emergency, as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The legislation directs HHS to issue guidelines as to what constitutes health misinformation,” it said.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube did little while COVID-19 related misinformation spread on their platforms – fueling distrust in public health officials, promoting conspiracy theories, and putting lives at risk. Online platforms must stop the spread of deadly misinformation, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Klobuchar to hold these companies accountable,” Luján said. “As COVID-19 cases rise among the unvaccinated, so has the amount of misinformation surrounding vaccines on social media. Lives are at stake.”
“For far too long, online platforms have not done enough to protect the health of Americans,” Klobuchar said. “These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation. Earlier this year, I called on Facebook and Twitter to remove accounts that are responsible for producing the majority of misinformation about the coronavirus, but we need a long term solution. This legislation will hold online platforms accountable for the spread of health-related misinformation. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be and it is our responsibility to take action.”