Facebook is a “giant source of misinformation and disinformation” that has hurt the U.S. government’s push to vaccinate more Americans against COVID-19, according to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
Klain’s criticism came during a new episode of Kara Swisher’s “Sway” podcast on Thursday. In response to a question from Swisher on whether major tech companies should be “held liable” for vaccine misinformation, Klain singled out Facebook as a platform he thinks needs to step it up.
“I think the platforms need to do better. I think particularly Facebook needs to do better,” Klain said. “I’ve told [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg directly than when we gather groups of people who are not vaccinated, and we ask them, “Why aren’t you vaccinated?” and they tell us things that are wrong, tell us things that are untrue, and we ask them where they’ve heard that. The most common answer is Facebook.”
Klain added: “And so we know [Facebook] has become a giant source of misinformation and disinformation about the vaccines.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The criticism follows Facebook introducing a number of rules over the last 18 months on what users can and can’t say about COVID-19 and vaccines on the platform. (You can check out Facebook’s COVID-19 policies by clicking here.)
According to Facebook’s rules, “content coordinating interference with the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine” can be potentially prohibited by the company; Facebook may also take action against ” content calling to action, advocating, or promoting that others not get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
On top of that, Facebook said it has taken steps to reduce the distribution of posts that may not violate its policies, but “may present misleading or sensationalized information about vaccines.”
Prior to Klain’s barbs, Facebook and the federal government seemed to be working together on the issue. Zuckerberg has interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci on several occasions over the last year, and the company has added warning labels to posts discussing the pandemic, which include COVID-19 information from “authoritative” sources like the World Health Organization. Those measures haven’t went far enough, though, according to the White House.
Overall, 47% of all U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to The New York Times — the highest percentage of any of the 20 most-populated countries.