Officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security frequently met with major social media companies ahead of the 2020 election and pointed out users and pieces of content for removal, according to information from a deposition of a senior FBI agent revealed by a state Attorney General.
“We found that the FBI plays a big role in working with social media companies to censor speech—from weekly meetings with social media companies ahead of the 2020 election to asks for account takedowns,” said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in a Dec. 2 series of tweets, three days after deposing Special Agent Elvis Chan, who is in charge of cyber affairs at the FBI San Francisco Field Office.
Chan has given major social media companies warnings that have led them to censor information about a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, shortly before the election that put Biden in office, according to a lawsuit against the Biden administration led by Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
The laptop contained information about Hunter Biden’s overseas dealings that appears to indicate attempts to sell access to his father, who at the time was vice president.
The suit alleges the administration violated the First Amendment by influencing social media to censor speech, including the laptop story. Some survey data suggests Biden might have lost the election if his voters were aware of the information.
Chan testified that he and officials from the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force and the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency were meeting social media officials on a quarterly, then monthly, and finally, weekly basis as the election approached, Schmitt said in his tweets.
“Chan stated that the FBI regularly sent social media companies lists of URLs and social media accounts that should be taken down because they were disinformation from ‘malign foreign influence operations,’” Schmitt said, adding that “on many occasions, the platforms took down the accounts flagged by the FBI.”
By Petr Svab