Days after Facebook publicly rejected President Joe Biden’s message that the platform is “killing people” by allowing the spread of vaccine misinformation, even as COVID-19 infections rise and vaccination rates fall across the United States, Biden attempted to clean up his remarks about the social media giant Monday, saying he hopes Facebook doesn’t take it “personally.”
When a reporter inquired about the president’s comments Friday to corporations and platforms like Facebook after his talks on the economy at the White House, the president intervened to answer before the reporter could complete.
“Allow me to state what I already stated. That’s a great question, and I’m pleased you asked it “Biden took the stage first. “It was pointed out that of all the disinformation on Facebook, 60 percent of it came from only 12 people. That was stated in the paper.”
Biden was alluding to studies that the White House mentioned at a news event last week when Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned of the dangers of misinformation to public health in his first recommendation for the Biden administration.
“I was asked the question about what do I believe is occurring,” Biden said on Monday, retracing his steps.
“People aren’t being killed by Facebook. These 12 persons are spreading false information, and everyone who listens to them will be harmed. People are dying as a result of it. It’s incorrect information “Biden went on. “My goal is that, rather than taking it personally and assuming that I’m implying that Facebook is murdering people, they would take action to correct the disinformation — the horrible falsehood — about the vaccination. That’s exactly what I was implying.”
When asked if he thought the social media firm was doing enough to battle disinformation, the president responded he didn’t know since he didn’t know what actions they had done over the weekend.
When asked how he would keep the firm responsible, he deflected, saying, “I’m not trying to hold anybody accountable when you say hold accountable. I’m attempting to get folks to look in the mirror. Examine yourself in the mirror. Consider what would happen if that disinformation reached your son, daughter, family, or someone you care about. That is all I am requesting.”
When Biden was asked, “On COVID misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” as he was leaving the White House for Camp David on Friday afternoon, he was attempting to clean up an answer he gave when asked, “On COVID misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” and declared, “They are murdering people. I mean, look, the only pandemic we have is among those who have not been vaccinated. They’re also murdering people.”
The controversial remark came a day after the surgeon general issued a new advisory claiming that misinformation, particularly on social media sites such as Facebook, have hampered vaccination efforts, sowed distrust, caused people to reject public health measures, use unproven treatments, prolonged the pandemic, and put lives at risk.
On Friday, Facebook reacted to the president’s depiction, claiming that his allegation was false in a statement.
In a statement to ABC News, Facebook spokesman Dani Lever stated, “We will not be sidetracked by claims that are not backed by evidence.” “Indeed, more than 2 billion individuals have read authoritative material on COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook than anywhere else on the internet. More than 3.3 million people in the United States have used our vaccination finder to learn where and how to receive vaccines. According to the facts, Facebook is assisting in the saving of lives. Period.”
While Facebook has disclosed how many individuals have viewed credible vaccination material, it has not disclosed how many users have viewed disinformation.
On Monday, when asked if the administration is planning any legal actions to restrict disinformation on platforms like Facebook, White House press secretary Jen Psaki attempted to defuse the situation.
“We’re fighting the virus, and one of the issues we’re seeing — which our surgeon general raised just last week — is that misinformation is spreading across a variety of platforms. Others of them come from a variety of social media sites, some from the media, and some from public leaders’ lips. People are dying as a result of this false information regarding vaccinations “she stated