Republican senators have sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding that his company turn over its communications with the FBI regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop after Zuckerberg revealed in an interview that the FBI had told his company to crack down on alleged “Russia propaganda” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“In October 2020, when the New York Post published articles based on evidence from Hunter Biden’s laptop, many news and social media organizations inappropriately rushed to censor and discredit the initial reporting and falsely labeled it as ‘disinformation,’” Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote to Zuckerberg. “You recently appeared to indicate that the reason why Facebook made the unwise decision to censor articles about Hunter Biden’s laptop was based off an alert from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”
The senators pointed to Zuckerberg’s recent appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, during which he explained how the FBI approached his company ahead of the 2020 election.
“I mean, basically, the background here is the FBI, I think, basically came to us, some folks on our team, and was like, ‘Hey, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was, we thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically, there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant,’” Zuckerberg said. “If something was reported to us as potentially misinformation, important misinformation, we also use third-party fact-checking program, because we don’t want to be deciding what’s true and false. And for the — I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false, the distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it; you could still consume it.”
Zuckerberg explained that the reduced distribution meant “fewer people saw it than would have otherwise.” He added that the suppression of the story had a “meaningful” impact on how many people saw it.
“Your revelation that Facebook took steps to censor information about Hunter Biden on its platform based on the FBI’s guidance raises even more questions about the FBI’s actions regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop,” the senators continued. “As you may know, whistleblowers have recently alleged to Senator Grassley that in August 2020, FBI officials initiated a scheme to downplay derogatory information on Hunter Biden for the purpose of shutting down investigative activity relating to his potential criminal exposure by labeling it ‘disinformation.’ Whistleblowers have also alleged to Senator Johnson that local FBI leadership instructed its employees not to look at the Hunter Biden laptop immediately after the FBI had obtained it.”
“The American people deserve to know whether the FBI used Facebook as part of their alleged plan to discredit information about Hunter Biden. If so, Congress and the American people require clarity with respect to the extent the FBI communicated with Facebook during the 2020 election about Hunter Biden-related information,” they added.
The senators then demanded that Zuckerberg’s company turn over “All records between and among Facebook, FBI, Department of Justice, and other government agency employees referring or relating to Hunter Biden including, but not limited to, Russian disinformation, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and Senator Johnson’s and Senator Grassley’s investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021… The names of the Justice Department and FBI officials who communicated with Facebook regarding Russian disinformation during the 2020 election…. The names of the Facebook officials who the Justice Department and FBI made contact with during the 2020 election… The dates of when Facebook decreased the distribution of articles relating to Hunter Biden’s laptop.”
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