President Biden’s reelection campaign is creating a working group centered on combating misinformation on social media networks, a Biden campaign official told The Hill on Wednesday.
The group will be led by Rob Flaherty, deputy campaign manager; Michael Tyler, communications director; and Maury Riggan, general counsel, as well as aides from the rapid response communications team and legal team.
The goal of the cross-campaign effort is to publicly push back on disinformation with “an army of folks” who can push back get information out to the public like Biden campaign officials, allies, surrogates and influencers.
“Social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of how their platforms affect the American people, but make independent choices about how they enforce their standards,” said Flaherty, the former White House director of digital strategy.
“The campaign is going to have to be more aggressive pushing back on misinformation from a communications perspective and filling some of the gaps these companies are leaving behind,” he said.
The new working group is a shift from previous strategies in which campaigns could ask and expect social media companies to take down content deemed to be misinformation. The shift comes in the new age of X, formerly known as Twitter, and the rise of other platforms such as Truth Social, where former President Trump often posts.
The campaign’s strategy could also involve taking legal actions in states with laws against deepfake technology and applicable copyright laws.
The effort, which was first reported by Politico, will be focused on debunking misinformation on issues including the president’s record, the COVID-19 vaccine push out of the White House and allegations of suppressing voter turnout, among other topics.
The new push comes as the Biden administration is embroiled in a legal fight over limits a court placed on certain agencies’ communications with social media companies over free speech concerns. An appeals court earlier this month determined that the administration likely violated the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to moderate specific content — including vaccine information — ruling that federal agencies cannot “coerce” social media platforms to take down posts the government doesn’t like.
Some current and former White House employees, including Flaherty, Politico reported, are under scrutiny for outreach to social media companies over misinformation about COVID-19 and the 2020 election.
The House Judiciary Committee in June invited Flaherty to testify about his conversations with social media companies and what they claim were efforts to censor them.