Perspectives: Biden Says Facebook Isn't 'Killing People', Urges Platform to Combat False Information
Headline Roundup July 19th, 2021
On Monday, President Joe Biden said that certain Facebook users were responsible for the spread of false COVID-19 information and called on the social media platform to combat false information after saying Friday that Facebook was "killing people." Biden said Monday he meant to criticize a group of people posting false information on the website, and that “Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation,” Biden said. This comes after White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is working with Facebook to flag posts that "spread disinformation" about COVID-19 vaccines, citing a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate which said 12 people were responsible for almost 65% of false vaccine information on social media. Facebook's Vice President of Integrity Guy Rosen urged the Biden administration in a blog post Saturday to move "past the finger pointing" and pointed to data that suggested vaccine acceptance among Facebook users has increased.
Biden's comments were covered by outlets across the spectrum on Friday. Some who agree with Biden argue that social media's power to influence people should not be underestimated, and call for greater transparency and a crackdown on false information. Others say that regulation sometimes also inadvertently suppresses plausible information and is not the answer to the spread of false information online.
President Joe Biden walked back some of his criticism of Facebook, saying Monday he meant to accuse a dozen users, but not the social media platform itself, of spreading deadly lies about Covid vaccines.
“Facebook isn’t killing people,” Biden said.
Biden added that he hopes Facebook will do more to fight “the outrageous misinformation” about coronavirus vaccines being spread on its platform “instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people.”
It was a stunning thing to say, even if it is in many ways true.
“They’re killing people,” President Biden said loudly enough to be heard under the roar of his Marine One helicopter idling on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.
He was talking not about terrorists or leaders of rogue nations or even gun manufacturers. He was talking Silicon Valley tech moguls, most specifically people like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the top two leaders of Facebook, and their platform’s role in allowing dangerous misinformation...
The federal government is stepping up its effort to purge the internet of COVID-19 "misinformation." On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki singled out a dozen specific anti-vaccine Facebook accounts and called on the platform to ban them.
"There's about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of vaccine misinformation on social media platforms," said Psaki. "All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including ones that Facebook owns."
She was discussing a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report on "confronting health misinformation." It...