WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that Biden administration officials are “paying attention” to “reporting” about alleged misinformation circulating on Twitter under Elon Musk’s pro-free speech reforms.
Jean-Pierre didn’t offer any examples of incorrect information supposedly swirling on the platform as she defended her Monday remark that authorities are “keeping an eye on” Musk’s ownership.
“You’re saying that you’re keeping an eye on Twitter because it might not be a suitable platform. So why use it?” Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre at her regular briefing.
Jean-Pierre replied that “[Biden] has always said and he has been very clear in his belief that it is important for social media platforms to continue to take steps to reduce hate speech and misinformation. And we’ll continue to say that. But media platforms make independent choices about the information that they present.”
She continued, “I don’t have anything to share on any policy or any changes that we will be making.”
Doocy followed up: “When you say that you’re going to be monitoring some of the speech on there — if you see something that you don’t like, would you try to shut Twitter down?”
“I hate to break it to you, Peter — just like everybody else, we very much monitor the news. We pay close attention to everything that you all are reporting and Twitter’s in the news a lot,” Jean-Pierre said.
“So that’s what we’re paying attention to. We’re paying attention to what is in the news and what is being reported on on the misinformation that’s out there. And let’s not forget there’s groups like [the] NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and public health leaders [that] have been very vocal about their concerns as well.
“So yes, we are reading what you all are writing and looking at what you all are reporting about the misinformation that is out there,” she went on. “But you know, I would hope that all Americans, including social media companies, civil rights organizations I just laid out, including Fox as well, will agree that we need to call out hate speech and misinformation.”
Jean-Pierre made her statement the same day the European Union’s top tech official warned Musk to beef up so-called “protective” measures to skirt the risk of big fines or even a ban in the 27-nation bloc.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for digital policy, held a video call with the South Africa-born billionaire to discuss the Digital Services Act, which is set to take effect next year and will require platforms to better police their platforms for material that promotes terrorism, child sexual abuse, hate speech and commercial scams, among other ills.
According to a readout of the call released by Breton’s office, Musk admitted “there is still huge work ahead” and said “Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech, tackle disinformation with resolve, and limit targeted advertising.”
Musk purchased Twitter in October for $44 billion to end what he described as politically biased censorship of news and opinions under the guise of fighting “misinformation.”
The billionaire last week ended Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, which reportedly was cited to suspend 11,200 accounts and purge about 98,000 posts, including for expressing doubts about the efficacy and safety of vaccines and masks.
Musk also has teased an amnesty for previously suspended users and restored former President Donald Trump’s account, which had been terminated following last year’s Capitol riot in which a wild mob of Trump supporters disrupted certification of Biden’s 2020 election victory. Trump has not tweeted since his account was restored.
On Monday, Musk tweeted that he would reveal behind-the-scenes information on Twitter’s decision-making in censorship cases, including suppressing The Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. It’s unclear to what extent that report will reveal collusion with Democrats and the Biden administration to remove content.
“The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened,” Musk tweeted.
Free-speech groups expressed alarm last month after a report in The Intercept described government pressure on tech platforms to squelch content — with the American Civil Liberties Union saying, “The First Amendment bars the government from deciding for us what is true or false, online or anywhere.”
Musk, who also controls electric carmaker Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX, said he purchased Twitter to restore political balance and free-speech values — citing among other examples the infamous censorship of The Post.
Twitter banned users from sharing links to reporting on documents that described Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter and brother James Biden’s business relationships in Ukraine and China. Twitter also locked The Post out of its primary account.
Twitter justified its censorship of The Post by citing its “hacked materials” policy — despite there being no evidence the material was hacked. The reports transparently described that the laptop was abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware repair shop and neither the Biden campaign or Hunter Biden directly denied that the laptop was authentic.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is best-positioned to become House speaker in January, scolded Jean-Pierre Tuesday for her remarks about monitoring developments at Twitter.
“I think our First Amendment stands up and I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk,” McCarthy said after meeting with Biden at the White House.
Earlier this month, Biden called for federal investigations of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter on national security grounds because of a long-held minority ownership stake by a Saudi prince.
“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden said at a Nov. 9 press conference. “Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at.”
“How?” a journalist followed up.
“There’s a lot of ways,” Biden said.
Republicans said it was ironic that Biden would call for such a probe when the president allegedly was involved in his family’s influence-peddling business relationships in China, Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
House Republicans say they will get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s overseas dealings when they regain power in January to subpoena testimony and evidence.