Appeals Court Orders Facebook to Turn Over Documents Related to COVID-19 Censorship

September 19th, 2023 4:36 PM

A federal court of appeals has mandated that Meta comply with a subpoena requiring documentation related to the Big Tech company’s oppressive censorship of alleged COVID-19 “misinformation.”

Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, among other platforms, initially refused to comply with the subpoena requiring documents related to the company’s extensive COVID-19 censorship. The D.C. District Court of Appeals ruled on Sept. 14 that Meta must comply with the subpoena, presenting evidence to undercut Meta’s claim that the subpoena’s exposure of anti-free speech censorship would violate First Amendment rights.

While the court did not seem to disagree with Meta’s anti-free speech philosophy of censorship, its insistence on compliance with the subpoena could expose just how extensive the Big Tech company’s COVID-19 censorship was.

A copy of the opinion, obtained by Reclaim the Net, showed Meta arguing in part that “the District’s subpoena infringes on both its and its users’ First Amendment rights to free speech and free association.” Yet Meta conducted its own campaign against free speech. D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb is investigating Meta’s “content moderation practices,” the ruling explained, for “potential violations of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act [CPPA],” possibly misrepresenting the degree of censorship on its platforms.

Meta argued, according to the court’s opinion, that revealing its documentation of who and what was censored would jeopardize First Amendment rights, a contention which the court denied. “Meta’s argument is like a child saying the court is unfairly targeting an orphan, after he murdered his parents,” said Dan Schneider, VP of MRC Free Speech America. “It’s time for Meta to stop delaying justice. It’s time for Big Tech platforms to be held accountable for censoring Constitutionally protected speech.” 

The court further denied Meta’s assertion of its own supposed First Amendment rights as a private company. The ruling cited the “narrowly tailored” nature of the subpoena. The appeals court did not address Meta’s coordination with the federal government to censor free speech, coordination that makes Meta’s claims of being “private” highly questionable.

The ruling denying Meta’s appeal concluded by clarifying, “The investigation focuses not on the users spreading misinformation or the specific content of their public posts, but on Meta’s statements about its regulation of that misinformation.”

The ruling comes as the House Judiciary Committee has been releasing an ongoing series, The Facebook Files, to expose how Meta’s platforms censored Americans at the behest of the federal government’s pressure. One installment in July showed how Facebook reportedly buckled to White House pressure to censor content related to COVID-19.

Between March 2020 and February 2022, MRC Free Speech America logged over 800 instances of COVID-19 censorship in its unique CensorTrack database.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Facebook headquarters at (650) 308-7300 and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “misinformation” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.