November 30, 2023 – House Judiciary Committee: The White House worked with YouTube to censor COVID-19 & vaccine ‘misinformation’

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The logos for Google and the Google-owned video streaming service YouTube. (Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images /)

The Biden administration worked together with employees of Google-owned YouTube in 2021 to target alleged “misinformation” relating to the COVID-19 virus and its vaccinations, according to documents obtained by FOX Business.

The documents, acquired through a source close to the House Judiciary Committee, reveal a level of correspondence previously unknown to the American public, as President Biden and his aides sought to promote coronavirus vaccinations in efforts to quell the raging pandemic.

The campaign was led by former White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty, who has since left the administration to help run Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign as a Deputy Campaign Manager.

Flaherty emailed Google team members in April 2021 to “connect […] about the work you’re doing to combat vaccine hesitancy, but also crack down on vaccine misinformation,” according to the documents.

Flaherty continued, asking for trends surrounding vaccine misinformation on the website, while offering government assistance in the form of COVID experts at the White House to partner in product work with YouTube.

Google, in an internal email, noted that after a subsequent meeting with Flaherty, the White House staffer “particularly dug in on our decision making for borderline content” — which is content that doesn’t cross Community Guidelines but rather brushes up against it, according to YouTube.

A week later, Google acknowledged that it sent the White House the total amount of videos removed for COVID vaccine misinformation, while discussing the government’s desire for even more data.

“Really [Flaherty’s] interested in what we’re seeing that is NOT coming down,” read an internal Google email between employees, seemingly referring to videos that had not yet been removed.

The next day, YouTube’s Government Affairs team emailed YouTube’s Product team flagging the interactions with the White House.

“…there is a very high degree of interest now coming from the White House now regarding vaccine misinfo/vaccine hesitancy and our work around borderline content,” the internal email from YouTube read.

“Unfortunately, the role of tech in addressing vaccine hesitancy is about to come under a massive spotlight particularly as the supply of the vaccine is soon to outpace demand,” the April 2021 correspondence added.

Then, the Government Affairs team asked if the Product team could brief the White House on YouTube’s work to reduce borderline content.

“We were hoping to get something on the books in the next two weeks or so to prevent anything from potentially spiraling out of control,” the email stated, stressing the urgency of the situation.

A week later, an update was presented, with YouTube’s Government Affairs team writing the Product team to inform them of the discussions between YouTube and the White House.

“Over the last several weeks, the Google & YT GAAP team have had conversations with the White House staff on YouTube’s policies and all the great work that is being done to raise authoritative information and fight harmful misinformation related to COVID-19 misinformation,” the email stated.

The Government Affairs team then asked if the YouTube Product team could meet directly with White House staff to highlight their efforts, because “[White House] staff continue[d] to have questions on the raise/reduce efforts,” related to supposed misinformation.

The email continued, imploring the Product team to meet with the White House as it could be beneficial for a future working relationship.

“…we believe having the opportunity for you both to share more background would be hugely beneficial as we seek to work closely with this administration on multiple policy fronts,” the Government Affairs team wrote.

The revelations of the documents between the White House and Google come roughly a year after the original Twitter Files were released, sparking a national debate about freedom of speech online.

Speaking on the interactions between YouTube and the Biden administration, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told FOX Business, “We knew the Biden White House worked to censor American speech with the help of Big Tech. Internal documents from Google obtained by the Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee show that their scheme extended to YouTube.”

“The Committees will continue their critical investigative work to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights and put an end to the vast government censorship enterprise,” he added. (Read more: Fox Business, 11/30/2023)  (Archive)