White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced further criticism on Monday for saying the Biden administration was “keeping a close eye” on Elon Musk’s newly acquired Twitter due to concerns about the spread of “misinformation” and incitement to violence on the platform.
His comments at a press briefing were prompted by a question from Reuters’ Andrea Shalal, who asked if Twitter was becoming a “vehicle of misinformation”. Shalal wondered what “tools” the administration had and who in the White House was monitoring Twitter.
“It’s something we’re definitely watching,” Jean-Pierre said. “Look, we’ve always been very clear that when it comes to social media platforms, it’s their responsibility to make sure that when it comes to misinformation, when it comes to the hatred that we see, that they act, that they continue to act. Again, we are all watching this closely.
She continued, “We’re all watching what’s going on right now. We see it with our own eyes on what y’all are reporting and just to ourselves what’s happening on Twitter.”
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“But again, social media companies have a responsibility to prevent their platforms from being used by any user to incite violence, especially violence directed at individual communities, as we have seen and the President was very clear when calling him. He will continue to do this, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” concluded Jean-Pierre.
Social media users quickly zeroed in on the press secretary’s “disturbing” statement that the administration was “keeping a close eye on” Twitter.
Bryan Dean Wright, a conservative commentator and former CIA officer, tweeted: “These are the words of a regime. Not a republic.”
The House Judiciary GOP tweeted, “Why is Biden’s White House afraid of the 1st Amendment and @Elon Musk?”
Ilya Shapiro, director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute, said Jean-Pierre’s comments likely violated the Bill of Rights.
“This statement sounds disturbing and is likely a violation of the First Amendment in and of itself,” Shapiro tweeted.
New York Times best-selling author and attorney James Hirsen encouraged the Biden administration to “keep an eye on the border,” instead of Musk’s social media platform.
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“It’s a really strange thing for a White House press secretary to say about a company against which there are no criminal allegations,” National Review reporter Isaac Schorr tweeted.
Tim Young, a conservative author and comedian, tweeted, “The White House hates free speech.”
Bret Weinstein, an evolutionary biologist and former professor at Evergreen State College who rose to prominence in 2017 after refusing to participate in the college’s “Day Away” for white people, also suggested that the Biden administration had overstepped its authority by attempting to censor political speech on a private platform.
“The strongest argument against freedom of speech on Twitter has two parts. 1) It is private and therefore not bound by 1A. 2) There is a higher standard that might limit the downsides of freedom of expression on Twitter. an interest – 1A now applies directly*,” Weinstein tweeted.
Weinstein continued: “It also fails if you try to create a standard of ‘disinformation’ that could be excluded. As soon as you try that, you create a political weapon ‘Who decides what is true?’ is a question with no good answer, as recent events have clearly shown.”
He concluded: “The case for censoring claims and facts is simply fatally wrong. There may or may not be things worth banning with TOS. But regulating the flow of ideas according to their veracity is senseless and dangerous, and the executive has long since violated the public/private boundary.”
Brendon Leslie, editor of Florida’s Voice, accused elected Democrats of being fascists.
“Feds are watching @ElonMusk closely for simply allowing free speech. The left is projecting – these are the real fascists,” Leslie wrote.
Dave Rubin, host of ‘The Rubin Report’, tweeted: “Absolutely mad to see The Machine go after @elonmusk for standing up for free speech. This entire exchange is kabuki theatre, from the ridiculous “reporter” question to KJP’s obviously pre-planned response. .”
Musk himself responded to Rubin’s tweet. “Why is there so much media against freedom of expression? It’s screwed,” he wrote.
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Prior to Musk’s takeover of the platform last month, Twitter had long been accused of bias against conservatives. The platform infamously censored the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story just weeks before the 2020 presidential election and suspended the accounts of conservatives such as Donald Trump, Jordan Peterson and others while by allowing the Iranian Ayatollah and Chinese government propagandists to stay.