Thursday, May 19

United States: Biden Calls on Tech to Stop Vaccine Hoaxes: “They’re Killing People” | International

Joe Biden addresses the media.
Joe Biden addresses the media.JONATHAN ERNST / Reuters

The White House faces social media due to false information and the deadly effect it has on the population that chooses not to get vaccinated against covid-19. With coronavirus cases in the United States on the rise and vaccination rates stagnant, the Joe Biden Administration believes that right now the coronavirus crisis has morphed into an “unvaccinated” pandemic.

When he was leaving the White House to fly to Camp David (the presidential rest residence), the president of the United States approached the microphone of a reporter on Friday who asked him what his message was for platforms such as Facebook. Biden was very explicit: “They are killing people.” Following those words, Biden turned and started to board Marine One, the helicopter the President uses.

The Democratic Administration has decided to increase the pressure on Silicon Valley, to take charge of the false and pernicious information that is mainly spread by a dozen people who are nicknamed as “the 12 of disinformation.” As the White House press chief Jen Psaki said last Thursday, “around 12 people are producing 65% of the fraudulent information against vaccines on social media platforms.”

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The statistics provided by the president’s spokesperson comes from the organization Center to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), which last March had already demanded that both Facebook and Twitter close all those pages that were administered by that dozen of people. Among those “twelve” is Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s nephew, John F. Kennedy, and the son of the former’s brother, who was also assassinated when he was running for president.

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The 67-year-old environmental lawyer saw how Instagram closed his account last February. At the time, a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, stated that the controversial anti-vaccine activist’s account was being removed “for repeatedly sharing discredited claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.” However, Kennedy can still use Facebook, where he has more than 300,000 followers, to disseminate his views.

Covid-19 vaccines do not cause infertility

The White House press chief insisted that Facebook and other social media companies were not doing enough to combat the misinformation generated by their platforms. “We are flagging posts that are problematic for Facebook for spreading disinformation,” Psaki said. “We work with doctors and medical professionals to connect experts who are recognized and deliver accurate information and reliable content to the audience.” The spokeswoman again denied one of the most popular reports among the unvaccinated population, which ensures that vaccines can cause infertility. “It has been refuted over and over again,” Psaki insisted.

In addition to the awareness campaign designed by the White House, the director of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC, acronym in English), Rochelle Walensky, assured that the current situation “is turning into a pandemic of unvaccinated people” . According to Walensky, 99% of recent deaths from covid-19 respond to unvaccinated people. CDC data says that COVID-19 cases rose 11% last week and recorded even greater increases in those areas of the country where vaccination does not exceed 40%.

For the coordinator of the response against the coronavirus of the White House, Jeffrey Zients, the solution is only in which more people get vaccinated. “While fully vaccinated people have a high degree of protection against serious diseases of COVID-19, including the delta variant, the unvaccinated are not protected against those diseases.”

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The highest US health authority, Vivek Murthy, warned Thursday of the “urgent threat” posed by disinformation. “It is costing us our loved ones, it is costing us lives,” Murthy, who has lost ten family members to the disease, lamented at a press conference. Murthy urged tech companies and social media giants to change their algorithms to avoid spreading false data, and to increase access to reliable sources that provide data and answer questions.

Foreign media and anti-vaccine activists are also trying to cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of vaccines made in the United States and Europe. This Friday, Psaki accused China and Russia of spreading disinformation on social networks about the side effects and efficacy of vaccines created in the West to promote their own serums against covid-19. “We have discovered that Russia and China have promoted their own vaccines through messages that undermine the origin of Western vaccines to help develop their programs,” said Psaki, who said they were based on data collected by the State department.

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