The White House on Friday expanded the fight against vaccine misuse, with President Biden directly criticizing Facebook and other platforms for allowing vaccine misuse to spread – and thus raising the death toll from a deadly pandemic.
Asked for a message on platforms like Facebook, Biden replied, “They’re killing people … the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.” The White House did not respond immediately to the request for clarification from the President.
Full exchange is embedded below:
The statements come from a White House coordinated campaign to put pressure on Facebook and other platforms to act more aggressively to combat misinformation about coronavirus vaccines. Thursday, report by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on the forums to impose stricter sanctions on accounts that share false information. Speaking to the press, he specifically called for involvement in the abuse of algorithmic recommendation engines, such as the Facebook news feed.
“They’ve designed product features like the Like buttons that reward us for sharing emotionally loaded content, not exact content,” Murthy said. “And their algorithms tend to give us more of what we click, pulling us deeper and deeper into the pit of false information.”
Facebook did not respond to the request for comment.
Several Republicans have opposed White House pressure, seeing it as an unconstitutional attempt by the government to impose restrictions on private sector speech.
“The White House is collaborating with Facebook to censor Americans,” said Ken Ken Buck (R-CO), outspoken supporter competition law against Facebook. “This is an attack on the first change.”
Vaccines that protect against COVID-19 are widely available in the United States, but vaccination rates have slowed in recent months. As a result, both the number of cases and COVID-19-related deaths have increased in recent weeks as new variants of the infection reach an unvaccinated population. All available COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested, which has been found safe and effective.