Fact Check: The Biden Administration Is NOT Monitoring Private Text Messages To Combat Vaccine Misinformation

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: The Biden Administration Is NOT Monitoring Private Text Messages To Combat Vaccine Misinformation Keeping Out

Did a Politico article suggest the Biden administration monitoring private text messages of Americans to combat vaccine "misinformation"? No, that's misleading. The Politico article stated that "Biden allied groups" are working with SMS carriers to distribute messages attempting to "dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages." The article did not state that the administration is monitoring private text messages, only that groups aligned with the Democratic president would be working to combat COVID-19 misinformation.

The claim appeared as a video (archived here) where it was published by Ben Shapiro on Facebook on July 13, 2021. Shapiro wrote:

Is the Biden administration monitoring the private text messages of Americans to combat vaccine "misinformation?" A little-noticed report by Politico seems to suggest that they are.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 14 17:23:09 2021 UTC)

Shapiro shared a video of conservative host Matt Walsh, who posted a video with the chyron, "Biden Wants To Fact Check Your Texts."

Walsh reads several paragraphs directly from the Politico article that was titled, "'Potentially a death sentence': White House goes off on vaccine fearmongers," that was published on July 12, 2021.

This is the Politico paragraph that he focuses on that mentions text messages:

Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages. The goal is to ensure that people who may have difficulty getting a vaccination because of issues like transportation see those barriers lessened or removed entirely.

At 1:30 in the video, Walsh says:

It seems as though they're saying that the DNC is going to be colluding with fact checkers to monitor our private text messages. All in an effort to head off misinformation...If the DNC is checking in on your text messages, your emails, it's all for your own good.

He continues:

So, I saw this report on Politico and then I was Googling to see if there were other headlines about this and there hasn't been anything. How is this not a big deal at least?

That's the report, that they're going to be monitoring our private text messages.

The Politico article did not say the Biden administration was "monitoring" personal or private text messages nor did it say the DNC was "checking in on your text messages." The article said there was going to be an effort to counter the spread of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine via SMS carriers sending out messages that people presumably have signed up to receive. The article does not say the SMS carriers will be monitoring or intercepting private text messages.

Natasha Korecki, one of the reporters on the story, posted two tweets, here and here, clarifying that the Biden administration was not monitoring private text messages:

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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