by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s admission last week that the FBI pushed the social media giant to censor Russian misinformation — and thus the Hunter Biden laptop story, as that’s how the agency and Democrats characterized it — shortly before the November 2020 election is but a breadcrumb of a bigger scandal: the widespread interference by the FBI in the 2020 presidential election with the potential that the bureau coordinated its efforts with the Biden campaign.
When asked during a Thursday podcast with Joe Rogan how Facebook handles controversial news, such as the Hunter Biden laptop story, Zuckerberg stopped his host to provide a backdrop to Facebook’s decision to decrease distribution of the scandal.
“The FBI basically came to us, some folks on our team, [saying,] ‘Hey just so you know, you should be on high alert,” Zuckerberg told Rogan. According to Zuckerberg, the bureau told Facebook that “we thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election” and that “we have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that so just be vigilant.”
As Zuckerberg told “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast audience, “Hey, look, if the FBI — which I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement — they come to us and tell us we need to be on guard about something, I want to take that seriously.” So, when the New York Post broke the Hunter Biden laptop story on October 14, 2020, Facebook treated the story as “potentially misinformation, important misinformation” for five to seven days while the tech giant’s team could determine whether it was false.
During that time, Facebook decreased its distribution of the story by making the story rank lower in the news feed.