Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday that she expects and “would require” social media companies to work with the Biden administration to prevent so-called misinformation and disinformation, and to “protect democracy.”
During an interview with NPR that aired on Monday, Harris was asked for her thoughts regarding the changes made at Twitter since Elon Musk took over the platform.
“I think about this issue a bit differently, which is my deep and profound concern about how misinformation and disinformation have infiltrated information streams in our country,” Harris said.
The vice president pointed to her four years as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, during which she was actively involved in the investigation into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 elections.
Harris said that reports on the matter, both classified and public, showed that there was a “profound amount of intentional disinformation and misinformation targeting specific demographics to take advantage of what might be preexisting disparities and skepticism about the role and importance of government.”
She added that this was allegedly done to weaken American democracy.
Big Tech Must ‘Cooperate’ With Government
“When I see how social media is used in that way, it causes me a very deep level of concern,” Harris said. “So, what I would say about any social media site is this: I fully expect and would require that leaders in that sector cooperate and work with us who are concerned about national security, concerned about upholding and protecting our democracy, to do everything in their power to ensure that there is not a manipulation that is allowed or overlooked that is done with the intention of upending the security of our democracy and our nation.”
The vice president’s comments come amid reports of federal government collusion with Big Tech companies to censor users. White House officials have denied claims that the administration colluded with social media companies to censor free speech on multiple topics, including COVID-19.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Dec. 14 wrote to the five largest tech giants—Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Microsoft—demanding documents relating to their alleged censorship practices and the “nature and extent of your companies’ collusion with the Biden Administration.”
“Big Tech is out to get conservatives, and is increasingly willing to undermine First Amendment values by complying with the Biden Administration’s directives that suppress freedom of speech online,” Jordan wrote.
“This approach undermines fundamental American principles and allows powerful government actors to silence political opponents and stifle opposing viewpoints. Publicly available information suggests that your companies’ treatment of certain speakers and content may stem from government directives or guidance designed to suppress dissenting views,” he added.
Dorsey Says Government Seeking to Control Public Conversation
That letter came as Twitter CEO Elon Musk has taken to the platform in recent weeks to unveil the so-called “Twitter Files,” which detail how conservative commentators had their tweets censored by the platform and how staffers worked to suppress a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 election.
Following the release of the files, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a blog post that social media must “be resilient to corporate and government control.”
Dorsey added that governments seek to control and shape the public conversation and will use “every method at their disposal” to do so, which the businessman said includes the media.
“It’s critical that the people have tools to resist this, and that those tools are ultimately owned by the people. Allowing a government or a few corporations to own the public conversation is a path toward centralized control,” Dorsey added.
Bryan Jung contributed to this report.