House Republicans sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking that he surrender any communications the social media giant has had with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other federal officials regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) cited recently released emails from Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), that suggested Zuckerberg personally “communicated with [Fauci] about the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“In light of Facebook’s subsequent censorship of certain COVID-19 content—including content about the pandemic’s origin—these communications with Dr. Fauci raise the prospect that the federal government induced Facebook to censor certain speech in violation of the First Amendment,” they wrote.
Over the past year amid the pandemic, Facebook has moved to block content suggesting that the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, may have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Jordan’s and Comer’s letter further stipulated that Facebook hand over “all documents and communications between or among Facebook employees and U.S. government employees,” which includes Fauci, regarding the virus, treatment, and its origins. Documents regarding Facebook’s policies about COVID-19 content moderation should also be surrendered, the representatives wrote.
“It also appears that you shared some of Facebook’s confidential trade or commercial secrets with Dr. Fauci, as portions of your email exchange with Dr. Fauci were redacted when made publicly available,” their letter stated.
Zuckerberg had sent a personal email to Fauci on March 15, 2020, in which the Facebook CEO wrote, “This isn’t public yet, but we’re building a coronavirus information hub that we’re going to put at the top of Facebook for everyone to see” to “make sure that people can get authoritative information” and “practice social distancing.” The email also asked Fauci to do a question-and-answer session for Facebook, among other requests.
Another mid-March 2020 email, titled “Offer from Mark Zuckerberg,” included Fauci’s response after Zuckerberg asked him to “do videos” on the pandemic. Fauci responded by saying, “I will write or call Mark to tell him I am interested in doing this.”