US President Joe Biden on Friday slammed social media platforms like Facebook for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines because his administration blamed them for blocking vaccination rates in the United States.
White House reporters asked Biden on Friday afternoon what his message was to social media platforms about coronavirus misinformation.
“They kill people,” Biden said when asked by reporters what his message was on social media platforms like Facebook about 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 today that COVID-19 “is becoming an unvaccinated pandemic.”
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low immunization coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk,” Walensky told reporters at a public health briefing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her daily press briefing said Facebook was not doing enough to stop the spread of false information about the coronavirus.
Psaki added that the White House had made a number of recommendations to Facebook and other platforms to tackle the spread of disinformation, including removing 12 people who it said were responsible for nearly 65% of the anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.
It comes a day after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory on Thursday calling health misinformation an “urgent threat” amid the Biden administration’s efforts to get more people vaccinated.
Murthy said the misinformation is one of a series of reasons why some Americans do not get vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the widespread availability of vaccines.
“Modern tech companies have allowed disinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users,” Murthy said during an appearance in the White House briefing room Thursday. “They have made it possible for people who intentionally spread disinformation – what we call ‘disinformation’ – to have extraordinary reach.”
The White House is calling on Facebook and other social media companies to be more aggressive in removing “harmful” posts that disseminate disinformation and reporting posts that disseminate information, according to the press secretary at the White House, Jen Psaki.
“We regularly make sure that social media platforms are aware of the latest dangerous public health stories that we and many other Americans see across social and mainstream media and we are working to engage with them to better understand the political platform social media application, ”Psaki told reporters on Friday.