The day after the surgeon general warned Americans of what he called the “urgent threat of health misinformation,” when asked about the COVID-19 information he sent to platforms such as Facebook, President Joe Biden spoke out about the misinformation, without mincing his words. ”
They are killing people.” he said.
Leaving the White House for Camp David on Friday afternoon, President Biden was asked, specifically, “On COVID misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?”
Biden answered, “They’re killing people. I mean, it really — look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”
This is the only question that Biden raised before boarding the Marine Corps One and leaving town over the weekend, after other officials of the Biden administration issued comments warning that there is a danger of misinformation in the fight against COVID-19.
On Thursday, surgeon Vivek Murthy issued the Biden administration’s first public health consultation to address the prevalence of misinformation and misinformation and its devastating impact on public health. The Biden administration is now calling on social media companies to take more measures to combat misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Prior to Biden’s departure, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was pressured by ABC News Congress reporter Rachel Scott on Friday about whether Facebook has taken sufficient steps to solve the problem.
“Clearly not,” Psaki said, “because we’re talking about additional steps that should be taken.”
“We’re dealing with a life-or-death issue here. And so, everybody has a role to play in making sure there’s accurate information,” she added. “It’s clear there are more that can be taken.”
Facebook disagreed with the president’s description, saying in a statement that his statement was incorrect.
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said in a statement to ABC News. “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 facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
The decision to present false information came at a time when some Republicans viewed the government’s response to coronavirus and vaccine information as a political violation; this is also at a time when the government is currently pushing to increase stagnant vaccination rates because of delta. The variant took over the country. No vaccinations, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called it an “pandemic of the unvaccinated” on Friday.
The Biden administration has redoubled its efforts to vaccinate more people, especially after the country failed to achieve the president’s goal of giving 70% of adults at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.
The surgeon’s new proposal specifically delves into social media platforms because it makes a huge contribution to the “unprecedented speed and scale” of misinformation dissemination, and Murthy calls on technology and social media companies to “take more responsibility to stop online spread of health misinformation.”
He believes that misinformation, especially on social media sites such as Facebook, hinders vaccination efforts, sows mistrust, and causes people to reject public health measures, use unproven treatments, and prolong the pandemic and put lives at risk.
“Simply put, health misinformation has cost us lives,” Murthy said from the White House Thursday.