Accuracy in Media

When White House officials asked Facebook to explain why sister company Instagram temporarily stopped recommending President Biden’s account, hurting its audience growth, an executive blamed “an internal technical issue that we can’t get into” but had been resolved.

“Are you guys f***ing serious?” Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty responded July 15, 2021, a day before the president accused social media platforms of “killing people” by insufficiently censoring disapproved COVID-19 claims. “I want an answer on what happened here and I want it today,” Flaherty demanded.

He got a short explanation 37 minutes later and a long explanation 18 days later: Instagram mistook Biden’s “far above normal” posts on vaccines as evidence of vaccine misinformation for two weeks. The Facebook executive rejected the White House request to “boost” the POTUS account in its recommendations as “remediation.”

Officials also cried foul when Twitter’s community misinformation reporting program Birdwatch flagged a Biden tweet last August.

The president claimed that inflation was 0% in July. Twitter users noted the inflation rate for the month was actually 8.5% and that Biden is “referring to the change in inflation” since June, which had the same 8.5% rate. The context was appended below Biden’s tweet.

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