Misinformation about the virus and vaccines has been shared on platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
President Joe Biden said social media companies were “killing people” by failing police to misinform their platforms about COVID-19 vaccines.
Biden’s comments came a day after American surgeon general Vivek Murthy declared misinformation about vaccines a threat to public health and how U.S. officials warn that deaths and serious illness from the virus are almost entirely preventable because of the vaccines.
Biden, when asked if he had a message for platforms like Facebook where false or misleading information about coronavirus vaccines has spread, told reporters Friday: “They are killing people.”
“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” he said.
Speaking Thursday, Murthy said misinformation about COVID-19, considered “infodemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO), was deadly.
“Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to the health of our nation,” Murthy said during statements Thursday to the White House. “We must confront disinformation as a nation. Life depends on it.”
In view of the role that the Internet plays in the dissemination of health disinformation, Murthy said that technology companies and social media platforms need to make significant changes to their products and software to reduce the spread of false information while increasing access. to authoritative sources based on the facts.
Too often, he said, platforms are built in ways that encourage, not counter, the spread of misinformation.
“We asked them to intensify,” Murthy said. “We can’t wait any longer for them to take aggressive action.”
Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever responded: “We will not be distracted by allegations that are not supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have seen authoritative information on COVID-19 and vaccines. on Facebook, which is more than anywhere else on the Internet.More than 3.3 million Americans have even used our vaccine search tool to know where and how to get a vaccine.Facts show that Facebook helps save lives . Period. “
Twitter posted on its platform, “As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves around the world, we will continue to do our part to elevate authoritative health information.”
We agree, @Cirurgo_General. The fight against health disinformation requires a society-wide approach. Thank you for your leadership.
– Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) July 15, 2021
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is now the dominant strain worldwide, accompanied by an influx of deaths around the United States almost entirely among unvaccinated people, U.S. officials said Friday.
U.S. cases of COVID-19 were up 70 percent over the previous week and deaths were up more than 26 percent, with outbreaks occurring in parts of the country with low vaccination rates.
Earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki also criticized Facebook.
“Obviously, there are steps they have taken. They are a private sector company,” Psaki told a White House briefing. “There are additional steps they can take. It is clear that there are also steps to be taken. more than can be taken ”.
On Thursday, he said the Biden administration was in regular contact with Facebook and had reported problematic posts.
Psaki said 12 people were responsible for nearly 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. The discovery was reported in May by the Digital and London Hate Profit Center, but Facebook disputed the methodology.