Facebook employees leaked to the White House as Facebook and the Biden administration sparred over whether or not Facebook should restrict information related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
On April 18, 2021, Facebook’s Nick Clegg informed his colleagues about a White House COVID-19 response team senior advisor, Andy Slavitt, who told him that Facebook employees were leaking to his team. This email was produced by Facebook’s parent company, Meta, to the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
According to Slavitt, Facebook workers have stated that Facebook leadership planned to influence the White House with the data it gave, as reported by Meta’s president of global affairs, Clegg. At the time of the revelations, Facebook was under intense pressure from the Biden administration to remove all references to the COVID-19 vaccination. The scope of the pressure has been revealed in “Facebook files” tweets on Twitter by Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the government weaponization subcommittee, based on documents and communications Meta shared with the panel.
The subcommittee’s documents show that Facebook momentarily limited the reach of a viral Tucker Carlson video on the COVID-19 vaccine, even though the clip did not break any of Facebook’s policies. The White House reportedly complained to Facebook about the virality of a meme implying that anyone who got the COVID-19 vaccination may sue the government for damages. Former White House digital director Jim Flaherty raised a query implying that conservative news source The Daily Wire and pundit Tomi Lahren, who had publicly said they would not be getting the vaccination, could be throttled to have their audiences narrowed by Facebook.
Open Secrets claims that inside Meta, most workers strongly support Democratic politicians over Republican ones. A total of $6.3 million was donated by Meta workers in 2020 (the year Joe Biden was elected president) to Democrats, while just $578 thousand was given to the Republicans.