Biden accuses social media of ‘killing people’ by allowing misinformation verkeerde

President Joe Biden said Friday that social media misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccinations is “killing people” and the White House said Facebook should clean up its act.

“They kill people. The only pandemic we have is one of the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” Biden told reporters at the White House as he left for the presidential retreat at Camp David for a weekend.

The White House is ramping up pressure on social media companies to weed out what officials say is widespread misinformation about coronavirus vaccinations.

According to US health officials, a current spike in Covid-19 deaths and illnesses across the country almost exclusively affects people who remain unvaccinated.

“There’s a clear message coming through: This is going to be an unvaccinated pandemic,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on Friday.

Many of those who refuse vaccinations, despite its easy availability in the United States, have said they do not trust the injections.

Skepticism is fueled both by false reports spread online by anti-vaccine activists and by Republican politicians who claim the vaccinations are part of attempts at government control.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Facebook and others are not doing enough to push back.

“Everyone has a role to play in making sure there is accurate information,” she said.

Psaki said the White House took a more active approach in declaring what it considers misinformation, but insisted that Facebook, in particular, should respond more quickly to removing problematic posts.

Productive Fake News Posters

“There are about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of the misinformation about vaccines on social media platforms. They all remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms,” ​​Psaki said, without identifying those dozens of posters.

The White House has “proposed that they create a robust enforcement strategy that bridges their properties and provides transparency about the rules,” she said.

Turning the volume against fake news immediately sparked accusations from right-wing media that Biden installed some sort of “Big Brother” surveillance over citizens’ opinions.

Facebook, which has contracted an army of independent third-party fact-checkers, including from AFP, to try and clean up the content, pushed back the White House’s claims.

“We will not be distracted by accusations that are not supported by the facts,” a Facebook spokesperson told AFP.

“The fact is that more than two billion people have viewed authoritative information about Covid-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the web. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook helps save lives. Period of time.”

Previously, Facebook said it was taking “aggressive action against misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines to protect public health,” and that it had removed “more than 18 million pieces of misinformation about Covid” and disabled accounts spreading false information.

The CDC reported more than 33,000 new cases in the United States on Thursday, bringing the seven-day average to 26,306, a 70 percent increase from the previous week.

The seven-day average of hospital admissions is around 2,790 per day, an increase of 36 percent. And after weeks of declines, the seven-day average of deaths was 211, up 26 percent.

The spikes are targeted in communities with low vaccination rates and “unvaccinated Americans are responsible for virtually all recent Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths,” said Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator.

The new wave is powered by the Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 80 percent of new cases, according to the covSpectrum tracker.

(AFP)

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