Joe Biden, President of the United States, tempered his assertion that social media giants “kill people” for misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. He said Monday that he hoped that they wouldn’t take it “personally” but instead would save lives.
Facebook and other companies defend their methods, saying they provide verified information on shots to people all over the globe. However, the White House claims they have not done enough to prevent misinformation from spreading that has slowed the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. down to a trickle. This comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing an increase in the number of virus-related deaths and cases among people who have not had their shots. Officials call it a “pandemic” of unvaccinated.
Biden, speaking at the White House, insisted that he meant exactly what he said Friday when he stated of tech giants that they “are killing people”. However, he claimed the point of his rhetoric is to increase pressure on companies to act.
Biden stated, “My hope is Facebook would, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I’m saying that Facebook is killing people,”
Biden’s remarks come at a time when the White House is struggling to combat resistance to getting vaccinated, especially among younger and more Republican-leaning demographics. From a peak of over 2 million Americans receiving their first vaccination in April, fewer than 400,000 Americans receive their first dose every day. More than 90 million people are not eligible for a vaccine.
As a result of this hesitance, the administration is increasingly using misleading or false information about the safety of vaccines. The Center for Countering Digital Hate, an organization that studies extremism and has published a study that found that 12 accounts were responsible for spreading most vaccine disinformation via Facebook.
“Facebook doesn’t kill people. Biden stated that 12 people were spreading misinformation. Anyone listening is being hurt and it’s killing people. It’s bad information.
The administration believes that criticizing social media companies, who are under increasing scrutiny in Washington for not only disinformation but also antitrust and privacy practices, is a proxy to criticizing disinformation creators themselves. To avoid spreading falsehoods, the White House has tried to avoid direct contact with misinformation spreaders.
“I am not trying to hold people responsible. Biden stated, “I’m trying make people look in the mirror, and look at themselves.”
The U.S. declared misinformation about vaccines a deadly threat last week. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, declared that misinformation regarding vaccines is a grave threat to public safety.
Murthy stated that misinformation is a serious threat to the nation’s health during remarks at the White House on Thursday. As a nation, we must face misinformation. It is vital for the survival of lives.
Murthy stated that technology companies and social media platforms need to make significant changes to their software and products to reduce false information and increase access to fact-based, authoritative sources.
He said that platforms are often designed to encourage misinformation spreading.
Murthy stated, “We are asking them” “We cannot wait any longer for them take aggressive action.”
Facebook responded to Biden’s attack on Friday with Kevin McAlister, a spokesperson for the company, saying that “The facts prove that Facebook is saving lives.” “Permanent.”
A blog post was also published by the company stating that its internal research had shown it wasn’t responsible for Biden’s failure to reach his vaccination goal. The data indicates that 85% of Facebook users are or want to become COVID-19-vaccinated. President Biden set a goal for 70% vaccinations by July 4. Facebook was not the reason that this goal was missed.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, insisted Monday that there was no war against Facebook. But she increased pressure on companies to disclose information about how many Americans are exposed via their platforms to false information and how their powerful algorithms encourage users to post false content.
She asked, “Do you have access from these platforms to information about who is misinforming?” “I don’t believe that such information has been made public. Are you familiar with the algorithmic workings of any of these platforms or do you have information? That information is not available to me.