Biden: Facebook and other platforms are ‘killing people’ with vaccine misinformation

Facebook is facing mounting pressure to address what the Surgeon General called an 'urgent threat.'

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Karissa Bell
July 16, 2021 3:54 PM
US President Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House July 16, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden said that Facebook and other social media platforms are “killing people” by allowing misinformation about COVID-19 to spread on their platforms.

Biden’s comments came in response to a reporter who asked the president what his message to “platforms like Facebook” was regarding misinformation about COVID-19. “They’re killing people,” Biden said. “I mean they’re really — look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”

His remarks, one day after the Surgeon general issued an unusual health advisory on the dangers of vaccine misinformation, comes amid mounting pressure for Facebook and other platforms to do more to address misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines. But Facebook has come under particular scrutiny due to its size, and spotty history with countering vaccine falsehoods.

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A widely cited reported from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that much of the vaccine misinformation that spreads online can be linked to just 12 individuals — many of whom remain active on Facebook despite the company’s attempts to crack down on vaccine misinformation in recent months. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update 7/16/2021 5:17pm ET: A Facebook spokesperson responded with this statement: "We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the 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. Period."

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