President Joe Biden had a clear message for social media platforms like Facebook on Friday: “They’re killing people” with COVID misinformation, he said.
Asked by a reporter what message he had for social media giants as misinformation about the coronavirus swirls, Biden said, “They’re killing people. I mean, it really — look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated and they’re killing people.”
On Thursday afternoon, press secretary Jen Psaki had said Facebook is not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation about the virus and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Psaki cited a May finding by the Center for Countering Digital Hate that said 12 accounts were responsible for almost 65% of anti-vaccine content and misinformation. Psaki called on the platform to “move more quickly to remove harmful violative posts.”
Facebook disputed the center’s methodology and defended its record Friday, saying “the facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” an unnamed Facebook spokesperson told NBC media reporter Dylan Byers, who tweeted the response. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine.”
The Facebook statement did not specify how much non-authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines has spread on the social media platform. But earlier this week, Psaki said that 12 people are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on Facebook despite some being banned on other platforms, including ones that Facebook owns.
Watch Biden’s statements above, via CNN.
Lawrence Yee contributed to this report.