Biden clarifies vaccine misinformation comments: “Facebook isn’t killing people”

President Biden attempted to clarify comments he made last week about Facebook, saying on Monday that the company itself is not “killing people” — but those who post misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines are.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has ratcheted up pressure on social media companies, especially Facebook, to increase their efforts to eliminate misinformation on vaccines and the virus from their platforms.

  • Biden last week said that social media platforms are “killing people” by allowing such misinformation to persist on their websites.
  • Facebook defended its efforts to promote factual information about vaccines, saying the president’s comments were not “supported by the facts.”

What he’s saying: “It was pointed out that on Facebook, of all the misinformation, 60% of the misinformation came from 12 individuals. … Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people who are out there giving misinformation … [are] killing people,” Biden said Monday, referring to a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate

  • “My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation. There’s outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant,” he added.

The big picture: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy last week said vaccine misinformation proliferating on social media is a factor in the country’s slowing vaccination rates, labeling misinformation as an urgent public health threat.

Go deeper: Misinformation is just one part of a vaccine trust problem

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