President Joe Biden wants Facebook to do more to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform. Last week, the President said that social media companies are killing people because of the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Facebook isn’t killing people; these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information,” the President said.
“My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine,” President Biden said. “That’s what I meant.”
Last Thursday, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a 22-page advisory about vaccine misinformation.
“Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,” Dr. Murthy said Thursday at the White House. “We must confront misinformation as a nation. Lives are depending on it.”
“Misinformation hasn’t just harmed our physical health — it has also divided our families, friends, and communities,” the Surgeon General wrote in the advisory. “The only way to address health misinformation is to recognize that all of us, in every sector of society, have a responsibility to act.”
During an interview with Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Murthy suggested that social media companies can do more to fight the spread of vaccine misinformation on their platforms.
“I’ve been very consistent in what I’ve said to the technology companies, and I’ve spoken with a number of them over the last many months, and my team has as well. And what we have effectively said is when we see steps that are good, that are being taken, we should acknowledge those. And there have been some positive steps taken by these technology companies,” Dr. Murthy said.
“But what I’ve also said to them, publicly and privately, is that it’s not enough. That we’re still seeing a proliferation of misinformation online, and we know that health misinformation harms people’s health. It costs them their lives,” he said.
“My worry is that all this misinformation that’s floating around is having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost and that is just tragic,” says US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on the spread of vaccine disinformation on social media and by conservative media. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/hBTk3NDs9s
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) July 18, 2021
Guy Rosen, Vice President of Integrity at Facebook, wrote a blog post pushing back on the White House’s claims. According to Facebook, vaccine hesitancy among Americans has declined by 50%, and 85% of American Facebook users say that they want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The Biden Administration is calling for a whole of society approach to this challenge. We agree. As a company, we have devoted unprecedented resources to the fight against the pandemic, pointing people to reliable information and helping them find and schedule vaccinations. And we will continue to do so,” Rosen wrote.
“[W]e’ve already taken action on all eight of the Surgeon General’s recommendations on what tech companies can do to help. And we are continuing to work with health experts to update the list of false claims we remove from our platform. We publish these rules for everyone to read and scrutinize, and we update them regularly as we see new trends emerge.”