Facebook documents reveal the White House sought special access to target vaccine-hesitant users on the social media platform, according to a report from Fox News.
The documents indicate the lengths President Joe Biden’s administration was willing to go to control the COVID-19 narrative.
The White House asked Facebook executives if they could provide government agencies with special access to target users expressing worry about vaccines, the Fox report noted.
“Since it’s a global pandemic, can we give agencies access to targeting parameters that they normally wouldn’t be able to?” Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty reportedly asked.
The request was made in a conversation about how to convince people worried about COVID vaccine side effects to get their jab.
Adiminstation officials reportedly wanted use of Facebook tools that would enable the White House to target social media users identified as spreading “misinformation” related to COVID.
According to the report, Facebook employees expressed concerns about this approach, aiming to strike a balance between sharing information and avoiding the perception of the company becoming “Big Brother.”
The relationship between the White House and Facebook appeared increasingly strained, with West Wing staff expressing frustration over what it perceived as a lack of cooperation from the social media platform.
The documents also highlight White House criticism reportedly directed at Facebook for not sharing enough data to target vaccine-hesitant users.
Facebook removed COVID content like claims the virus was manmade, due to administration pressure, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The report cited internal company communications viewed by the newspaper.
The White House requests targeting specific users and pressuring Facebook to remove certain content raise questions about the administration’s handling of vaccine hesitancy and COVID misinformation.
The White House’s efforts were made in a climate of a nationwide vaccination campaign, which, according to a White House statement released in May 2023, has led to nearly 270 million Americans receiving at least one shot.
The administration ended vaccination requirements for federal employees, contractors and international air travelers May 11, after Biden declared the pandemic over.