On The Front Lines
Challenging Technocensorship: Rutherford Institute Asks Court To Prohibit Facebook From Censoring, De-Platforming COVID-19 Vaccine Critics
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Warning against the rising threat to free speech posed by the government’s collusion with large technology companies in order to regulate and control what ideas can be shared on the internet and through social media, The Rutherford Institute has asked a federal court to prohibit Facebook from censoring and de-platforming critics of the COVID-19 vaccine in violation of the First Amendment. In an amicus brief filed in Children’s Health Defense v. Facebook, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that Facebook acted in concert with U.S. government officials and agencies to suppress and punish Children’s Health Defense for sharing information critical of the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Affiliate attorney Julie A. Esposito assisted The Rutherford Institute in advancing the First Amendment arguments rebutting Facebook’s attempt to censor COVID-19 vaccine critics.
“We should all be alarmed when prominent social media voices are censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that are deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous, extremist or conspiratorial,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “At some point, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes ‘extremism,’ we might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other and subjected to technocensorship.”
Founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Children’s Health Defense (CHD) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood health epidemics by exposing causes, eliminating harmful exposures, seeking justice for those injured, and establishing safeguards to prevent future harms. CHD, an outspoken critic of the proliferation of childhood vaccines, seeks to inform the public about vaccines and the health dangers posed by vaccines and wireless technologies. CHD’s mission has brought it in conflict with the pharmaceutical industry, which obtains huge profits from the sale of vaccines; the United State government, which accepts millions of dollars in funding from the pharmaceutical industry; and big-tech internet companies that profit from expanded wireless technologies. Crucial to CHD’s mission of educating the public is its use of social media, including Facebook, to provide links to studies and information provided by experts on public health that exposes the dangers of vaccines. However, since January 2019, Facebook has waged a campaign to discredit CHD: repeatedly posting labels and overlays on CHD’s Facebook page labeling information provided as “false,” preventing persons visiting CHD’s Facebook page from making donations to CHD; and otherwise asserting that CHD violated Facebook’s terms of service by posting false information.
In August 2020, CHD filed a lawsuit alleging that Facebook’s actions, in retaliation for CHD’s speech critical of vaccines and wireless technologies, violated the First Amendment’s guarantee to freedom of speech. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook acted at the behest of and in concert with the U.S government, asserting that Congressman Adam Schiff had pressured Facebook to suppress “vaccine misinformation” and that officials threatened to repeal a statute providing Facebook with immunity from liability. Facebook moved to dismiss the First Amendment claim arguing that it is a private entity and not subject to the First Amendment. In its amicus brief, The Rutherford Institute argues that CHD’s lawsuit must be allowed to proceed in order to protect the free speech rights of all citizens, which are threatened by the increasing collaboration of the government and social media giants to censor speech that challenges the status quo.
The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated and educates the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting their freedoms.