After Zuckerberg revelation, FBI says it routinely warns social media about 'malign influence'

The FBI said it cannot ask or direct companies to act in response to information on potential threats

Updated: August 28, 2022 - 4:07pm

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The FBI said it "routinely notifies" private companies, including social media platforms, of potential threats after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook "decreased" the distribution of the Hunter Biden laptop story right before the 2020 election because of a warning from the FBI.

The FBI's defense comes after Zuckerberg appeared Thursday on the "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast. Host Joe Rogan asked Zuckerberg about how Facebook handled the story first broken by The New York Post involving the questionable contents on the laptop of President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

Reflecting on Facebook's decision on the story, which broke weeks before the 2020 election, Zuckerberg said the FBI told his company to "be on high alert" and that an information dump similar to the Russian propaganda seen during the 2016 election would happen soon.

Meta tweeted on Thursday, "None of this is new," and wrote that Zuckerberg testified nearly two years ago to the Senate about the FBI's 2020 warning.

The FBI released a statement in response to Zuckerberg's conversation with Rogan.

"The FBI routinely notifies US private sector entities, including social media providers, of potential threat information, so that they can decide how to better defend against threats," the law enforcement agency stated, according to The New York Post.

"The FBI has provided companies with foreign threat indicators to help them protect their platforms and customers from abuse by foreign malign influence actors," the FBI wrote. 

The federal agency said it will work with its partners to "keep the public informed of potential threats" but it cannot ask or direct companies to act.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) criticized the FBI for suggesting what information social media platforms should allow to be shared. 

"The FBI has absolutely no constitutional authority to decide what political information Americans should or shouldn’t share," he tweeted Saturday. "Zuckerberg should be embarrassed to admit he’s a willing and compliant  tool of the deep state."

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