Facebook requested talking points from the Biden administration to “get ahead” of the possibility that people might be less likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine after evidence emerged that the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) single-dose vaccine might cause life-threatening blood clots in some rare cases, documents shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
The U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint statement on April 13, 2021, issuing a pause on the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine after they identified 6 cases where adult women — out of roughly 7 million individuals who receive the dose — developed severe blood clots. A Facebook employee wrote an email later that day asking Biden administration COVID-19 czar Andrew Slavitt for “any messaging” that the White House might want the company to promote, looping in White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty and Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement for the COVID-19 Response Team Courtney Rowe in a follow-up email moments later, according to documents obtained by the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) and shared with the DCNF.
The NCLA is party to an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Attorneys General of Louisiana and Missouri alleging improper collusion between the federal government and social media companies, and obtained the emails via discovery.
“Re the J+J news, we’re keen to amplify any messaging you want us to project about what this means for people – it obviously has the risk of exacerbating vaccine hesitancy, so we’re keen to get ahead of the knock-on effect,” the employee wrote. “Don’t hesitate to tell me – or via your teams – how we can help you provide clarity/reassurance via Facebook.”
Flaherty responded to the email suggesting that the company create a context panel for information about the vaccine, suggesting that the company tell users that the clotting incidents “are very rare,” that the FDA and CDC are working on a treatment plan and that the vaccine is very different from the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and that they were unaffected, according to the documents. The White House official would go on to say he was “happy to provide” more specifics about what the information in the context panel “should be.”
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