Facebook is doubling down in its rebuttal to President Biden’s assertion that it, and social media sites like it, are “killing people” with misinformation about COVID. In a new statement, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of Integrity, lays out the data behind Facebook’s Friday claim that “the facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
On Thursday afternoon, press secretary Jen Psaki said Facebook is not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation about the virus and the COVID-19 vaccine, citing a May finding by the Center for Countering Digital Hate that said 12 Facebook 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.”
Responding directly to that, Facebook said in a statement Saturday that, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have removed over 18 million instances of COVID-19 misinformation. We have also labeled and reduced the visibility of more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content debunked by our network of fact-checking partners so fewer people see it and — when they do — they have the full context.”
The statement largely focused on how the social media site has strived to minimize vaccine hesitancy, citing the creation of COVID vaccine profile frames and pop-up vaccine clinics as tools that have encouraged users to get the vaccine.
“The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Rosen says. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.”
In its defense, Facebook added that as a company, it agrees with Biden’s desired approach to handling this continued pandemic and vaccine hesitancy.
“The Biden Administration is calling for a whole of society approach to this challenge. We agree. As a company, we have devoted unprecedented resources to the fight against the pandemic, pointing people to reliable information and helping them find and schedule vaccinations. And we will continue to do so.”
You can read Facebook’s full statement here.