The FBI attempted to downplay Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s admission the bureau pressured Facebook to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
The FBI acknowledged in a statement to NBC News on Friday that it gave companies “foreign threat indicators” to help protect their platforms and customers, but that it “cannot ask, or direct, companies to take action on information received.”
“The FBI routinely notifies U.S. private sector entities, including social media providers, of potential threat information, so that they can decide how to better defend against threats,” the agency said.
Likewise, Meta released a statement Friday on Twitter claiming the FBI did not specifically warn Facebook about Hunter Biden, but that it provided more broad “warnings about foreign interference.”
As we’ve said, nothing about the Hunter Biden laptop story is new. Below is what Mark told Sen. Johnson in Oct 2020 and what Mark told Joe Rogan this week. The FBI shared general warnings about foreign interference – nothing specific about Hunter Biden. https://t.co/pHtzvh6r0r
— Meta Newsroom (@MetaNewsroom) August 26, 2022
Notably, the Hunter Biden story was at the time the only big news item in circulation that Democrats, tech companies, and 51 former intelligence officials characterized as Russian disinformation.
The dual statements contradict the remarks Zuckerberg made on Joe Rogan’s podcast on Thursday, claiming the FBI pressured Facebook to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story because it was “Russian propaganda.”
“The FBI, I think basically came to us — some folks on our team and was like, ‘Hey, um, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was the — we thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election,” Zuckerberg explained to Rogan. “We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump of — that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.’”
BREAKING: Mark Zuckerberg tells Joe Rogan that Facebook algorithmically censored the Hunter Biden laptop story for 7 days based on a general request from the FBI to restrict election misinformation. pic.twitter.com/llTA7IqGa1
— Minds? (@minds) August 25, 2022
“We just kind of thought, Hey look, if the FBI, which, you know, I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement,” Zuckerberg continued. “They come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something. Then I wanna take that seriously.”
When Rogan asked how it feels to have censored a story that ended up being true, Zuckerberg admitted, “it sucks.”
“Because it turned out after the fact, I mean the fact-checkers looked into it and nobody could say it was false. So, basically it had this period where it was getting less distribution,” he said.
About 80% of Americans believe Trump would have won the 2020 election had tech companies not censored the Hunter Biden laptop story, according to a national poll.
As such, the FBI itself engaged in election interference, according to former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
“It is election interference to the extent that these allegations are true that FBI agents were knowingly putting bad information out there,” Ratcliffe said Friday, adding that it’s particularly “troubling” because the FBI is the agency tasked with overseeing election security.
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 27, 2022