Power Struggle: Facebook Flexes, Biden Admin Yields

Written By BlabberBuzz | Tuesday, 20 July 2021 13:30

President Joe Biden and his administration are attempting to soften their expressions of anger with social media platforms about the spread of coronavirus misinformation online.

Biden and his aides are not considering regulatory or legal action to curb misinformation, particularly regarding COVID-19 shots as vaccination rates plateau, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

"That's up to Congress to determine how they want to proceed moving forward, but let me just note that we're not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We're in a battle with the virus," she explained to reporters on Monday.

Though, the administration was not taking "any options off the table," Psaki said. She went on that misinformation was being circulated by some media outlets and public officials.

Earlier Monday, Biden clarified his remark from over the weekend that Facebook was "killing people" because "the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated."

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“Facebook isn’t killing people," he said. "These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally ... that they would do something."

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The White House has repeated that 12 people are accountable for approximately 65% of anti-vaccine digital misinformation. All of them have active Facebook accounts even though some have been suspended from other platforms owned by the social media giant, Psaki announced last week.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has been spearheading an administration campaign to urge technology companies to police misinformation more aggressively. The approach includes asking them to present data about the reach of problematic posts.

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Facebook has been aggressively answering to the White House's messaging. A spokesperson insisted over the weekend the administration is "looking for scapegoats" after missing its vaccine goal.

The social media platform slammed Biden's comments, asserting that Facebook "will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts."

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"The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine," a Facebook spokesperson stated. "The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period."

"In private exchanges, the Surgeon General has praised our work, including our efforts to inform people about COVID-19. They knew what they were doing. The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals," a Facebook official said.

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