House republicans request emails between Zuckerberg and Fauci

GOP asking if Fauci played role in platform censoring claims COVID-19 was "Man-made"

Top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees penned a letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday asking for the company to hand over communication between Zuckerberg, Facebook employees, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health officials.

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The request comes after emails between Fauci and Zuckerberg, obtained by Buzzfeed News, show Zuckerberg soliciting help from the nation’s top infectious disease expert to promote access to reliable health information for its users. 

Lawmakers want to know if Fauci influenced Facebook's decision to ban posts from users questioning the origins of COVID-19 claiming the virus was engineered.

The letter to Facebook, obtained exclusively by FOX Business, read, "These communications with Dr. Fauci raise the prospect that the federal government induced Facebook to censor certain speech in violation of the First Amendment." 

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told FBN exclusively that these exchanges between Zuckerberg and Fauci raise questions and Congress deserves answers. 

"There's probably two explanations. Either Zuckerberg and Facebook was duped like so many Americans were and thought Dr. Fauci is the smartest man on the planet…or they were working with the government. And it seems to be more of the latter." 

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Jordan says it’s possible that Facebook’s decision to initially shut down debate over the nature of COVID-19 could have obstructed pressure on government officials to take the theory more seriously.

"Why is this big tech platform working in cahoots with the government to suppress certain type of information that we now know was pretty darn credible?" he asked.

A Facebook spokesperson, Andy Stone, in a series of tweets explained the communication between Facebook and Fauci tweeting,  "In the early days of this pandemic, Facebook reached out to the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert, in addition to connecting with others on the Trump administration's Coronavirus Task Force, to offer our assistance…Mark Zuckerberg shared with Dr. Fauci Facebook’s plans to launch a COVID-19 Information Center, a hub to make reliable resources and information about COVID-19 from government and health experts easily accessible on the platform." 

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Jordan says it is telling that when Fauci was downplaying the lab-leak theory – that COVID-19 was engineered and escaped from a Wuhan lab – Facebook’s policies aligned to suppress that content on their platform. But when the Biden Administration announced it was seriously looking into the theory – Facebook’s policies changed course.  

"Dr. Fauci, once again has changed his position. So he's saying, ‘Oh, well, there may be some credibility to looking at the lab, the origins of the virus from the lab,’", Jordan said. "Whatever the government says, Facebook goes along with."  

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Portions of communications between Fauci and Zuckerberg were redacted before being released as part of a FOIA request raising questions from some Republicans who wonder what extent Facebook and Fauci were collaborating.  

Stone addressed those redacted portions of the emails between Fauci and Zuckerberg explaining in a tweet, "In the redacted part of the email, Zuckerberg told Dr. Fauci of our plan – which we’d described in our company blog weeks earlier – to share Facebook ad credits with government agencies to help them run coronavirus PSAs." 

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But Jordan says he wants Facebook to release the original email unredacted if it doesn't contain sensitive trade secrets that Facebook is trying to protect telling FBN, "Why did the government say, ‘Oh no-no, you can't see what is in communication with the highest-paid official in our government, Dr. Fauci, and the head of one of the biggest companies on the planet. You're not allowed to see what they're talking about. And we know what they were talking about in the lead to the fact that certain information was kept from the American people."