Social media platforms like Facebook “are killing people” by allowing Covid-19 misinformation to proliferate, President Biden said on Friday.
A reporter asked the president if he had a message for social media companies about Covid misinformation. Biden replied, “They’re killing people. Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”
The White House has turned its attention this week toward social media platforms that allow the spread of Covid-19 misinformation as the federal government tries to promote vaccinations across the country. On Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared misinformation to be an “urgent threat” to public safety.
And at a briefing on Thursday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki outlined changes the administration has asked the companies to make in order to combat misinformation. They have asked the companies to “measure and publicly share the impact of misinformation on their platform” with the public. They also proposed creating a “robust enforcement strategy that bridges their properties and provides transparency about the rules” and improving the time it takes to remove a post that contains misinformation. Lastly, she said, the administration recommended platforms “promote quality information sources in their feed algorithm.”
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“[There are] about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” Psaki added. “All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including… ones that Facebook owns.”
That stat comes from a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which calls these people the “disinformation dozen.” And those 12 posters also account for 73 percent of anti-vax misinformation on Facebook alone.
“Living in full view of the public on the internet are a small group of individuals who do not have relevant medical expertise and have their own pockets to line, who are abusing social media platforms to misrepresent the threat of Covid and spread misinformation about the safety of vaccines,” the center’s CEO, Imran Ahmed, wrote in the report.
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