They're Killing People: Biden on COVID Misinformation; Facebook Responds
US President Joe Biden lashed out at Facebook for spreading misinformation around COVID-19 and vaccines.
United States President Joe Biden on Friday, 16 July, lashed out at social media networking site Facebook for not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation around COVID-19 and vaccines on its platform.
When asked by a reporter what his message would be to companies like Facebook, Biden replied saying, "They're killing people."
"The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they're killing people," he added.
Facebook Responds to Biden's Remark
Reacting to the president's remark, a Facebook spokesperson told NBC news that the "accusations are not supported by facts".
"The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives," the spokesperson said.
Further, in a blog post uploaded on Saturday, Facebook stated that as per the data, 85 percent of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"President Biden’s goal was for 70 percent of Americans to be vaccinated by 4 July. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed," the blog post added.
It also pointed out that the social media giant had removed over 18 million instances of COVID-19 misinformation since the pandemic began.
"We have also labelled and reduced the visibility of more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content debunked by our network of fact-checking partners. So, fewer people see it and — when they do — they have the full context," the blog post noted.
Vivek Murthy Concerned About Misinformation
On 15 July, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy had also flagged COVID-19 misinformation on social media.
“Every week, I talk to doctors and nurses across the country who are burning out as they care for more and more patients with COVID-19 who never got vaccinated, all too often because they were misled by misinformation,” Murthy said.
“We must confront misinformation as a nation. Every one of us has the power and the responsibility to make a difference in this fight. Lives are depending on it,” said the Indian American surgeon general, as quoted by PTI.
Murthy said that the US administration is asking tech companies to be more accountable.
“We're asking them to monitor misinformation more closely. We're asking them to consistently take action against misinformation super spreaders on their platforms,” he added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said on 15 July, that Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, is not doing enough to stop the spread misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.
Twelve people were responsible for almost 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms, she added, as reported by news agency Reuters.
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