US President Joe Biden on Friday criticised social media platforms like Facebook for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines, as his administration has blamed them for stalling US vaccine rates.
Biden was asked by reporters at the White House on Friday afternoon what his message is to social media platforms on coronavirus misinformation.
“They’re killing people,” Biden said when asked by reporters what his message was to social media platforms like Facebook on the spread of false and misleading claims about the virus and the safety of vaccines that prevent it.
“I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s -they’re killing people,” Biden said on the south lawn of the White House.
Biden’s comments on Friday afternoon echoed those of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, who warned earlier in the day that COVID-19 is “becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have a low vaccination coverage, because unvaccinated people are at risk,” Walensky told reporters during a public health briefing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her daily press briefing said that Facebook was not doing enough to stop the spread of false information on the coronavirus.
Psaki added that the White House made a number of recommendations to Facebook and other platforms to address the spread of misinformation, including removing 12 people who she said were responsible for almost 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.
This comes a day after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory Thursday labelling health misinformation an “urgent threat” amid the Biden administration”s push to get more people vaccinated.
Murthy said that misinformation is among a range of reasons why some Americans are not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 despite vaccinations being widely available.
“Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users,” Murthy said during an appearance in the White House briefing room on Thursday. “They’ve allowed people who intentionally spread misinformation — what we call ”disinformation” — to have extraordinary reach.”
The White House is asking Facebook and other social media companies to be more aggressive in removing “harmful” posts that spread disinformation and flagging posts that spread information, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“We are regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives dangerous to public health that we and many other Americans are seeing across all of the social and traditional media and we work to engage with them to better understand the enforcement of social media platform policies,” Psaki told reporters Friday.