May 27, 2024

Biden White House Wanted Facebook to ‘Change the Algorithm,’ Boost New York Times Content over Right-Wing Media

New materials obtained by the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), have shed further light on the Biden White House’s efforts to influence Facebook — even asking about algorithm changes to make its preferred media sources more visible to users.

In the latest round of disclosures, which Rep. Jordan is calling “The Facebook Files,” Biden White House digital strategy director Rob Flaherty can be seen suggesting Facebook change its algorithm to promote corporate establishment media including The New York Times over competitors, including Tomi Lahren and the Daily Wire.

“If you were to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people,” said Flaherty. “You wouldn’t have a mechanism to check the material impact?”

This is the latest release in Rep. Jordan’s Facebook Files, a cache of communications between Facebook and the Biden White House which were only obtained after the Judiciary Committee brought considerable pressure to bear on the tech company, including a threat to hold Mark Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress.

It’s not the first time that Flaherty’s name has come up. More emails between Biden’s point man on digital strategy and Facebook officials have been released through Missouri v. Biden, showing Flaherty pressuring Facebook to spy on and censor users on WhatsApp, a supposedly encrypted private messaging platform.

Rob Flaherty / LinkedIn

In an email to Facebook officials disclosed through the lawsuit, Flaherty asked how Facebook could prevent “misinformation” on WhatsApp if they couldn’t see people’s messages.

“If you can’t see the message, I’m genuinely curious—how do you know what kinds of messages you’ve cut down on?”

In another email, Flaherty tore into Facebook for not reducing the spread of “vaccine-skeptical” content.

“I care mostly about what actions and changes you’re making to ensure you’re not making our country’s vaccine hesitancy problem worse,” he wrote. “I still don’t have a good, empirical answer on how effective you’ve been at reducing the spread of vaccine-skeptical content and misinformation to vaccine fence sitters.”

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election. Follow him on Twitter @AllumBokhari

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