An FBI agent testified that the federal agency met weekly with social media companies ahead of the 2020 presidential election to warn about “disinformation” and regularly sent lists of content for them to suppress, according to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
It’s possible those warnings led to Twitter and Facebook’s controversial suppression of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story, which has been an enduring focal point of the social media free speech issue.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Elvis Chan testified on Tuesday as part of a lawsuit against the Biden administration brought by the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana. The lawsuit alleges that the administration colluded with social media companies to censor free speech under the guise of combating misinformation.
According to Schmitt, Chan testified that he and others from the federal government had meetings with social media companies to warn them about suspected Russian disinformation. The meetings became more frequent as the 2020 presidential election approached.
Schmitt revealed that Chan said he was joined at the meetings by the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force and senior officials from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Chan testified that he personally warned social media companies of potential Russian “hack and leak” operation. Those warnings may have led to restrictions on the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Twitter temporarily banned the Post’s story from being shared, but overturned its policy one day later. Facebook limited the spread of the story through its algorithm, which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said was because the FBI warned the company to “be vigilant” against an incoming “dump” of Russian disinformation.
News outlets over the last two years have confirmed the laptop’s authenticity.
According to Schmitt, Chan also testified the FBI “regularly” sent social media companies lists of websites and accounts it suspected were “malign foreign influence operations” and followed up to see if the companies had removed them.