Internal Twitter documents released by journalist David Zweig claim that the Trump administration met with tech companies and asked them to help “combat misinformation” during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zweig published several internal Twitter documents that describe meetings between “the Trump White House, specifically Michael Kratsios,” and several tech companies.
Kratsios joined the Trump White House in 2017 as Deputy Assistant to the President for Technology Policy. He became the fourth Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the United States (US) at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in August 2019 and was President Donald Trump’s top technology advisor when appointed to this role. Kratsios also served as Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering between July 10, 2020 and January 20, 2021.
One of these internal Twitter documents claims that Kratsios lead the Trump administration’s calls for help from tech companies to combat misinformation at the onset of the pandemic. Specifically, the document states that the Trump administration wanted tech companies to combat “conspiracies around 5G cell towers, runs on grocery stores, and misinformation that could stoke panic buying and behaviors.”
Another internal Twitter document reports that Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft participated in this meeting. This document also claims that the meeting’s participants agreed to a “standing weekly call to share general trends and hosting a shared Microsoft Teams group.”
Additionally, the document notes that some of the other companies in attendance (not Twitter) “gathered open-sourced information from researchers.” While Twitter claims that it didn’t gather this information, it acknowledges feeding this information to the Twitter policy enforcement teams.
Three of the companies that were named in these internal documents did introduce new censorship policies in April 2020 that banned content related to one of the topics referenced in these documents — 5G and Covid.
Google-owned YouTube and Facebook banned content suggesting a link between 5G and coronavirus while Twitter banned unverified coronavirus claims that “could” lead to social unrest and included the example “5G causes coronavirus — go destroy the cell towers in your neighborhood!” as an example of a claim that’s banned under this policy.