Posts on social media say Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg “literally” asked top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci “how can I help sell lockdowns to keep the country locked down for 8 months while I’m paying local officials in multiple states to change their election procedures and laws to facilitate mass mail in ballots?” The Fauci emails, that were accessed by news organizations via Freedom of Information Act requests, show Zuckerberg asking if Facebook could help with the pandemic response, but make no mention of lockdowns, elections, or ballots.
Users responded with surprise that such a conversation would be recorded in the emails, with comments including, “Can someone link the emails here? I need to see it for myself”, “Which page in the emails?” and “Were those REALLY his exact words?!?!?”
On June 2, 2021, thousands of emails from January to June 2020 gave readers a glimpse of the government specialist’s world during the early months of the global pandemic (here).
The emails were accessed via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – a mechanism that allows public citizens to request government documents and information (www.foia.gov/) – by the Washington Post (here), Buzzfeed News (here) and CNN (here).
The email from Zuckerberg, dated March 15, 2020, thanks Fauci for his leadership and invites him on a Q&A video to be featured in Facebook’s pandemic response efforts ( here , here ). While it outlines possible messaging initiatives in which Fauci could get involved, the email does not mention the U.S. general election that would take place months later in 2020.
American conservative television host Laura Ingraham was among those drawing attention to a redacted paragraph toward the end of Zuckerberg’s email to Fauci, here .
The Washington Post noted in its coverage of the emails that “the redaction was deemed necessary” due to “trade secrets” – meaning company information that may be deemed confidential.
While Reuters is unable to ascertain the contents of the redacted paragraph, there is no evidence that Zuckerberg mentioned ballots or election officials to Fauci in his email.
Facebook told Reuters via email there was no mention of ballots or the election in Zuckerberg’s email.
Partly false. No email from Mark Zuckerberg among the Fauci emails accessed via FOIA request mentioned local election officials or mail-in ballots.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
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