When a bully gets what it wants, it comes back for more.
has spent the last year acquiescing to increasingly aggressive liberal demands to suppress content. So it’s no surprise that Democrats have decided they can also get away with making CEO
a scapegoat for plateauing rates of vaccination in the U.S.
Last week the White House launched a pointed offensive against Big Tech firms for allegedly not controlling enough vaccine-related speech by users. Press Secretary
criticized the companies from her daily podium, and the Surgeon General pressed them in a report. President
declared over the weekend that Facebook is “killing people,” though he walked back that “killing” point on Monday.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
snarled that social-media firms should “take this crap off of their platforms that are basically telling people, ‘oh, hey, there’s problems [with the vaccine]’ when we know science proves there isn’t.” The messages are clearly coordinated.
Vaccine hesitancy is slowing America’s recovery from the pandemic. Yet Facebook released a rare rebuttal to its progressive tormentors, noting that “vaccine acceptance on the part of Facebook users in the US has increased by 10-15 percentage points” to 85%. It also says the U.K. and Canada “have similar rates of Facebook usage to the US,” yet “those countries have achieved more than 70% vaccination of eligible populations,” Mr. Biden’s July 4 goal.
Democrats are paying for having promoted vaccine skepticism in the presidential campaign last year. Then-candidate Biden warned that a rapid approval timeline could be politicized, a point echoed by some who resist the vaccine today, and Vice President
publicly doubted a Trump-approved vaccine. It’s no surprise that this skepticism is now playing out among some Americans when the same politicians say vaccines are safe when they’re in power.
Also lost on the Democrats is the way apparent government-directed control of speech on the pandemic could heighten suspicion of official guidance. “Misinformation” has become a political buzzword often used to limit scientific debate, including on the virus’s origins. Evidence of the vaccine’s benefits is overwhelming, and doubters are more likely to be won over by consistent and direct rebuttals of myths.
The Biden Administration has shown little evidence that social media is the source of vaccine hesitancy. Perhaps it simply hopes that flaming Facebook can diffuse political responsibility for the slowing progress against the virus. Social media can easily be blamed for all manner of social ills it showcases. Facebook has bent to politicians far too much, inviting this latest assault, but at least it is resisting here.
For millions of Americans, the increasingly overt coordination between social-media firms and government is undermining rather than increasing confidence in authorities. It is also setting up a lawsuit charging that the social-media censors are doing the bidding of politicians, and are thus subject to First Amendment scrutiny under the “state actor” doctrine. Mr. Biden’s vaccine scapegoat ploy could boomerang.
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Appeared in the July 20, 2021, print edition.