Covid-19: US President Joe Biden blames social media platforms of ‘killing people’; Facebook denies charges
US President Joe Biden on Friday said that social media platforms such as the Facebook cause the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and its vaccines, blaming the tech giants of stalling US vaccine rates.
“They are killing people… I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s – they’re killing people,” Biden said from the south lawn of the White House when asked by reporters what his message would be to social media platforms such as the Facebook over false and misleading claims about the Covid-19 virus.
Facebook vehemently denied the allegations and said that it is “helping save lives”.
The US President echoed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky, who had earlier warned that “Covid-19 is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage, because unvaccinated people are at risk,” Walensky said, news agency ANI reported.
White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki said at the daily media briefing that Facebook Inc. was not doing “enough” to prevent the false information on the pandemic, adding that the White House gave several recommendations to the social media company, and other platforms, in order to address the issue, including the removal of 12 people who were allegedly responsible for around 65 percent of the anti-vaccine misinformation spread on the social media.
The development comes just a day after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory stating that health misinformation was an “urgent threat” at a time when the Biden administration is rallying to vaccinate as many people as possible.
“Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users. They have allowed people who intentionally spread misinformation – what we call ‘disinformation’ – to have extraordinary reach,” Murthy said.
The White House has asked social media organisations to act aggressively to take down “harmful posts”.
“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 said.