Header Ads

Biden’s Facebook climbdown: Now President says social network ISN'T killing people and blames 12 people behind the majority of online vaccine misinformation

 Joe Biden insisted on Monday that Facebook 'isn't killing people' and instead blamed them for allowing 12 people to spread the majority of online vaccine misinformation in a climbdown from remarks he made to reporters on Friday. 

'Facebook isn't killing people,' Biden clarified during remarks on economic recovery at the White House on Monday.

'These 12 people are out there giving misinformation, anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it,' he continued. 'It's killing people. It's bad information.'

'My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally,' Biden said, 'that they would do something.'

Biden also assured 'we are not in a battle with Facebook.'

Last week, when Biden was asked if he had a message for Facebook, he responded: 'They're killing people. I mean it really. Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they're killing people.'

Facebook pushed back against that in a statement released Saturday, lashing out at the administration for 'blaming a handful of American social media companies' for the declining vaccination rate.

'While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic,' Facebook's vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, wrote in a corporate blog post.

The White House's top public health official also said on Sunday morning that Facebook was 'costing' American lives by not combating misinformation.

President Joe Biden did a u-turn on Monday by saying 'Facebook isn't killing people' and pleading that CEO Mark Zuckerberg 'instead of taking it personally... do something' to combat misinformation surrounding the coronavirus vaccine

President Joe Biden did a u-turn on Monday by saying 'Facebook isn't killing people' and pleading that CEO Mark Zuckerberg 'instead of taking it personally... do something' to combat misinformation surrounding the coronavirus vaccine

Vaccination rates in the U.S. have sharply declined since the jab was opened to all adults earlier this year. Minority and poor communities, as well as southern states and more Republican areas, are experiencing heightened hesitancy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination rates in the U.S. have sharply declined since the jab was opened to all adults earlier this year. Minority and poor communities, as well as southern states and more Republican areas, are experiencing heightened hesitancy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

President Biden says he DIDN'T say Facebook is 'killing people'
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time1:37
Fullscreen
Need Text

'We know that health misinformation harms people's health. It costs them their lives,' Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN. 'I have seen that as a doctor over the years, as patients have struggled with health misinformation.'

'And here's the key thing to remember,' he added when speaking with State of the Union host Dana Bash, 'health misinformation takes away our freedom and our power to make decisions for us and for our families. And that's a problem.'

'The platforms have to recognize that they have played a major role in the increase in speed and scale with which misinformation is spreading.'

Murthy's comments come after Facebook officials defended the platform on Saturday when President Biden accused social media misinformation of 'killing people.'

On Thursday, Murthy also issued an advisory calling health misinformation an 'urgent threat.' He provided a 22-page 'confronting health information' pamphlet.

The deflection in blame also follows the administration missing Biden's July 4 deadline to administer at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 70 per cent of American adults – and have 160 million fully vaccinated by the mid-summer holiday 

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy doubled-down on the administration scapegoating the plateauing vaccination rate by saying social media isn't doing enough to combat misinformation. 'We know that health misinformation harms people's health. It costs them their lives,' Murthy said on Sunday

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy doubled-down on the administration scapegoating the plateauing vaccination rate by saying social media isn't doing enough to combat misinformation. 'We know that health misinformation harms people's health. It costs them their lives,' Murthy said on Sunday

Murthy also defended the administration lifting mask requirements for vaccinated people after receiving criticism for acting too quickly now that case loads are rising in areas where rates are low and other ares where variants are running rampant.

'What's driving the rise of infections actually is the Delta variant,' Murthy asserted.

'But, with that said, I think the CDC guidance around masks was intended actually to give flexibility to individuals and to localities, recognizing that,' he explained.

The surgeon general said it's now in the hands of local governments and private entities to decide how they want to handle certain aspects of dealing with the pandemic moving forward, including if they want to require masks – even for immunized individuals.

'When you see places like L.A. County and other parts of the country, where you see counties making decisions about masks that may be different from other counties, that's okay,' Murthy said. 'They're doing that based on what's happening in their communities, based on vaccination rates and case counts.'

Former President Donald Trump weighed in on the vaccine matter on Sunday, claiming Biden is 'not doing well at all' in vaccination mobilization and gaining the trust of Americans.

'He's way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don't trust his Administration, they don't trust the Election results, and they certainly don't trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth,' he wrote in a statement.

The vaccination rate has plateaued around the 68 per cent mark in adults. Children under the age of 12 have still not been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to get the vaccine, which is still under emergency use authorization rather than gotten full approval from the federal agency.

Vivek said while he has praised social media privately for their efforts, he has a message for them: 'It's not enough.'

'We're still seeing a proliferation of misinformation online,' he told CNN.

Rosen defended the platform and lashed out at the administration after Biden used social media as a scapegoat for the decline in vaccination rates.

'The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19,' he wrote in the lengthy post.

'President Biden's goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.' 

'At a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in America, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies. While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic. And facts — not allegations — should help inform that effort. 

'The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased. These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days,' Facebook wrote in a defensive posting. 

Still, a source from the Biden administration said Saturday that Biden publicly lambasted the platform after the White House has been asking for 'months' for help fighting what it called disinformation, according to Fox News.  

Biden: Facebook is 'killing people' with vaccine misinformation
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time1:56
Fullscreen
Need Text
Facebook has hit back at President Biden after he accused the company of 'killing people' by allowing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine to circulate on its platform. Mark Zuckerberg is pictured
Biden lashed out at the company on Friday after his Administration failed to meet its vaccination targets

President Biden last week accused Facebook of 'killing people' by allowing misinformation to circulate on its platform. The social media giant, headed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left), hit back on Saturday

The platform defended itself against Biden in a lengthy corporate blog post from Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity at Facebook

The platform defended itself against Biden in a lengthy corporate blog post from Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity at Facebook

Despite its puffed-up statements, Facebook hasn't done enough to stamp out untruths, the administration official said, according to Fox. 

'They've been withholding information on what the rules are, what they have put in place to prevent dangerous misinformation from spreading [and] how they measure whether it's working,' the officials said.

The disagreement has bubbled over after the Indian Delta variant has ripped across the world - and now is showing up in U.S. data, as cases rise in many places, even as polls show, many of the unvaccinated believe the negative information that's circulating about the shots - information the White House says is false.

'For people in the US on Facebook, vaccine hesitancy has declined by 50%; and they are becoming more accepting of vaccines every day.

'Since January, vaccine acceptance on the part of Facebook users in the US has increased by 10-15 percentage points (70% → 80-85%) and racial and ethnic disparities in acceptance have shrunk considerably.

'Increased vaccine acceptance has been seen on and off Facebook, with many leaders throughout the US working to make that happen,' the posting continued. 'We employed similar tactics in the UK and Canada, which have similar rates of Facebook usage to the US, and those countries have achieved more than 70% vaccination of eligible populations. This all suggests there's more than Facebook to the outcome in the US. 

'Since the beginning of the pandemic we have removed over 18 million instances of COVID-19 misinformation,' Facebook explained.

'We have also labeled and reduced the visibility of more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content debunked by our network of fact-checking partners so fewer people see it and — when they do — they have the full context.' 

Tension between the social media platform at the Administration had been brewing.

On Friday, a Facebook official said similar to NBC: 'In private exchanges the Surgeon General [Vivek Murthy] has praised our work, including our efforts to inform people about COVID-19... The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals.'

The Biden Administration hoped to have 70 percent of American adults partially vaccinated against COVID by Independence Day - a goal they missed by three percent. 

The Commander-in-Chief has voiced his frustration about vaccine misinformation proliferating on social media, saying it is stopping millions of Americans from getting the jab. 

Earlier this week, the White House confirmed it had stepped up COVID-19 misinformation tracking as it tried to tackle slowing rates of vaccination. 

Press Secretary Jen Psaki explicitly singled out Facebook saying that influential anti-vaxxers 'remain active' on the site 'despite some even being banned on other platforms'.

'You shouldn't be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation,' she stated on Thursday.  

No comments