The Post’s traffic from Facebook plunged by more than 50% in early 2021 after White House aide Rob Flaherty falsely accused America’s favorite tabloid of “churning out articles every day about people dying” from COVID-19 vaccines.
The suppression drive from the Biden White House came just five months after social media networks — including Facebook and Twitter — censored The Post’s coverage of Joe Biden’s links to his son Hunter’s business dealings in China and Ukraine that cited files on Hunter’s abandoned laptop. The companies later expressed regret for doing so.
I’m curious — NY Post churning out articles every day about people dying. What is supposed to happen to that from policy perspective?” Flaherty told three Facebook officials on March 26, 2021, according to phone call notes published Thursday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Flaherty, who left the White House in June after more than two years as director of digital strategy, pressed: “Does that article get a reduction, labels?”
A Facebook official replied: “Let’s go back to remove (outright misinfo), reduce (not benign, more sensationalism, eg claim vaccines create miscarriages, indirect discouragement), inform – levers are contingent on content type, who posted it.”
“We look at removing from recommendations, explorer, we want to take all this content out of that,” the Facebook rep added. “What we’re prioritizing in feed – want to make sure that anything we suspect is hitting skepticism, harmful topically but we can’t remove, we reduce.”
Flaherty pressed: “The question I have, if you’re applying these methodologies, where is it still breaking through? And to whom? If it’s still there, where is next whack a mole?”
A Facebook official replied, “We’re getting better at detecting (human, natural language processing) discouragement. We find COVID posts, then we identify posts that are explicit discouragement, or this is bullying for choosing to get vaccinated. What’s hard right now, we haven’t completed full detection path. We need to close gaps, that’s what we’re doing.”
One Facebook employee pleaded: “[We’re] trying to get to fastest real solution v managing symptoms.” But Flaherty responded that “intellectually my bias is to kick people off.”