Sunday, December 5

Biden Asks Facebook to Address Disinformation After Saying He’s “Killing People” | Joe biden

Joe Biden has tempered his assessment that social media platforms are “killing people” by harboring misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, saying on Monday that he hoped they wouldn’t take it “personally” and would act to save lives.

While companies like Facebook defend their practices and say they are helping people around the world access verified information about vaccines, the White House says they have not done enough to stop the misinformation that has helped slow the pace. of new vaccines in the US to a drip. It comes as the United States sees an increase in virus cases and deaths among those who have not received a vaccine, in what officials call an emerging “unvaccinated pandemic.”

Speaking at the White House, Biden insisted that he meant “precisely what I said” when he said Friday of the tech giants that “they are killing people.” But he said the goal of his rhetoric was to increase pressure on companies to act.

“My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that I’m somehow saying ‘Facebook is killing people,’ will do something about disinformation,” Biden said.

A March report from the nonprofit Center to Fight Digital Hate and cited by the White House last week found that 12 online personalities, dubbed the “disinformation dozen,” are responsible for the vast majority of the misinformation and the conspiracy against the Covid-19 vaccine. theories.

“Facebook is not killing people. These 12 people are giving wrong information, anyone who hears it gets hurt, they are killing people, “Biden said. “It’s bad information.”

Biden’s comments come as the White House has struggled to counter resistance to a chance, especially among younger demographics and Republicans. Fewer than 400,000 Americans are receiving their first dose of vaccine each day, compared to more than 2 million a day in April. More than 90 million eligible people have not received a dose.

Last week, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared that misinformation about vaccines was a deadly threat to public health.

“Disinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to the health of our nation,” Murthy said during his remarks Thursday at the White House. “We must confront disinformation as a nation. Lives depend on it. “

Murthy said tech companies and social media platforms need to make significant changes to their products and software to reduce the spread of false information while increasing access to authoritative and fact-based sources.

Too often, he said, platforms are built in ways that encourage the spread of misinformation.

“We are asking you to step up,” Murthy said. “We cannot wait any longer for them to take aggressive action.”

Facebook responded to Biden’s attack on Friday, with spokesman Kevin McAlister saying: “The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

The company also published a blog post saying that its internal investigation showed that it was not responsible for Biden’s failed vaccination target. “The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to get vaccinated against Covid-19. President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed. “

White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted Monday: “We are not in a war or battle against Facebook, we are in a battle against the virus.” But pressure has increased on companies to share information about how many Americans are exposed to misinformation on their platforms and how their secret and powerful algorithms promote bogus content to users.

“Do you have access to information from these platforms about who is receiving misinformation?” she asked. “I don’t think that information was released. Do you know how the algorithms work on any of these platforms? I don’t think that information was released. “

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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