FBI Believes Private Social Media Is “Our Most Valuable Asset” and “Calms” Facebook Immediately Prior to Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional Testimony on Election Interference
Previously, we sued to get answers on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the FBI’s pressuring of Facebook to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story published by the New York Post in October 2020. The most recent tranche reveals correspondence between the FBI and Facebook a month before the election.
Recall that after the election, the head of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, revealed in an interview with Joe Rogan that the FBI told Facebook to be on “high alert” for Russian propaganda.
Following up on this statement, we sent a FOIA request. The request sought “records pertaining to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) interactions with and requests to social media and news platforms, including Facebook, to censor or ‘be on high alert for’ information in connection with the then-upcoming election . . . .”
The FBI’s public justification for downplaying the story – that Hunter Biden’s laptop was the product of Russian disinformation – was revealed to be a lie. The FBI knew the laptop and its contents were legitimate and, instead, willfully chose to engage in election interference by working with social media companies to suppress the truth about the numerous crimes and moral depravity of Hunter Biden.
The Deep State time and again illustrates that it will stop at nothing to try to pull the wool over our eyes about its willful interference in the 2020 election and its censorship of free speech that is true but deemed politically inconvenient to the Left.
The latest production contains numerous examples of communications between the FBI and other components of the Biden Deep State working hand-in-glove to share information related to posts and content with social media companies.
Here is one example of an email chain from unnamed FBI officials to unidentified individuals at Facebook – we don’t know who exactly sent and received these emails because the FBI has “conveniently” redacted them – (pg. 4):
Date: Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 2:31 PM
Subject: Tipper & Next FITF Meeting
First, I got a tip from CISA that [redaction].....
Please review and take whatever steps you deem appropriate. We would appreciate it if you let us know whether you take any actions based on this referral.
Second, we still don't have you locked in with our next bilateral meeting with FITF yet. Here are the remaining dates/times which are available:
Wednesday, Oct. 14, 10 am, 11 am, or 12 pm PDT
Thursday, Oct. 15, 10 am, 11 am, or 12 pm PDT
Friday, Oct. 16, 11 am or 12 pm PDT
No set agenda yet, but we wanted to put something on the calendar. Please let us know if any of these work for you. Thanks!
The email above mentions the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a component of the Department of Homeland Security that is infamous for coordinating a whole-of-government effort to censor free speech based on combating misinformation and disinformation. CISA’s tip was relayed to the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) and then to Facebook, as well as other social media companies used as counterparts in their censorship campaign. Notably, the FITF is part of the FBI’s counterintelligence unit and held regular bilateral interactions with social media companies related to “counteract[ing] malign foreign influence operations targeting the United States.”
This is one of a handful of confirmed regular meetings between FBI counterintelligence and Facebook. What is of interest to us, and what we will try to pry loose, is the “tip from CISA.” These emails were sent 10 days before the publication of the Post story on the laptop. It was at a bilateral FITF-Facebook meeting on October 14 that the FBI stated they had “no comment” on the Biden laptop, though a transcribed interview with the Section Chief of the FITF reveals that multiple personnel on the FITF knew the laptop was real.
The FBI claims a slew of exemptions allowing it to redact all of the pertinent information in the produced email concerning the tip from CISA. This includes the use of (b)5, the Deliberative Process Privilege (DPP), to justify withholding certain information from us. DPP is notoriously used as a catch-all exemption by executive agencies to shield the release of what it considers harmful or embarrassing information. It is readily apparent that this exemption – and other exemptions invoked in the email – is nothing more than an attempt to hide the CISA tip.
If the information revealed was so secret, then why is Facebook allowed to know what the public cannot?
Other emails in the tranche reveal additional background discussions with the FBI and Facebook connected with the Hunter Biden laptop.
In advance of Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing in front of the Senate Commerce Committee on October 28, 2020, FBI internal emails revealed that Facebook wanted to get in touch with a specific FBI agent “to discuss the recent referrals provided regarding” an unspecified “threat” that this same agent monitored.. The agent responds, “Do you know if they just want a phone call or what? . . . you know I think private industry is our most valuable asset.” In response, another FBI employee provides additional context: “They [Facebook] are freaking out and anything you can do to calm them down would be good for us. Set a time convenient for you.” (pg. 49) Here, the FBI states on the record that they see Facebook as a valuable asset – presumably because the Deep State believes that it can use “private industry” to do what the Constitution forbids the government, namely suppressing conservative views and anything negative about the Left. Additionally, while context is missing and redacted here, one wonders if the FBI benefited from a “calm” Facebook prior to congressional testimony specifically because the FBI knew they were illegally coordinating with Facebook to engage in election interference and censor the free speech of Americans.
At the Senate hearing, Zuckerberg was asked by multiple Republican Senators about the relationship between the FBI and Facebook and the decision to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story. These questions, in turn, produced at least one press inquiry from Reuters. In an email entitled “Fw: FBI warning about hack and leak,” a member of the FBI says “[National Press Office] is starting to get inquiries about Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing where he mentioned the FBI warned FB to be aware of a potential hack and leak operation re: Hunter Biden. Let me know if you all have gotten other inquiries or have any other info to share.” (Pg. 73) The email additionally shares a link to a USA Today story and shares the question from a Reuters reporter: “Mark Zuckerberg indicated today in a congressional hearing that the reason that Facebook limited the reach of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden was that the FBI had warned them to be aware of a potential hack and leak operation. Can you talk to me about this? What was this warning? What prompted it?” (pg. 73) Unfortunately, additional context and talking points provided by the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs are redacted. In response to the press inquiry, the FBI employee writes, “So I have spoken to Facebook several times about . . . .” Yet the remainder of what is likely several long sentences of text is completely redacted.
With each email production, the ACLJ gets closer to uncovering the truth behind the FBI’s intentional downplaying of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. Rest assured, we will continue to investigate and litigate until we manage to see beyond these redactions and obtain the answers we need.