by Carly Roman, Associate News Editor | | July 17, 2021 04:02 PM 5-6 minutes
Facebook stepped up its criticism of President Joe Biden’s remarks that the platform was “killing people,” saying that the White House was “looking for scapegoats” after missing its Fourth of July vaccination 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.”
“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 reportedly said in a text message to NBC. “The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
WHITE HOUSE SAYS SOCIAL MEDIA BANS FOR MISINFORMATION SHOULD EXTEND TO ALL PLATFORMS
A Facebook official then told the outlet that the White House was “looking for scapegoats” after falling just short of its holiday goal for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“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,” the official said.
Representatives for Facebook did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s attempt to confirm these statements.
On Friday, Biden made headlines when he said that the social media platform was “killing people” due to the spread of disinformation about coronavirus vaccines.
“They’re killing people,” Biden said when asked to share his message to companies such as Facebook. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”
All 50 states and Washington, D.C., are experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases that experts believe is fueled by the high transmissibility of the virus’s delta variant, which now makes up a majority of new cases in the United States, according to the New York Times.
The rise has resulted in halted openings in some localities, such as Los Angeles County reimposing its indoor mask mandate even for fully vaccinated people, as well as crackdowns on the spread of misinformation about vaccines.
The White House has asked Big Tech to impose stricter protocols, calling on the platforms to censor posts claiming that the vaccines lead to infertility. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday the administration is working “to engage with [social media platforms] to better understand the enforcement of social media platform policies” before singling out “the false narrative that remains active out there about COVID-19 vaccines causing infertility.”
“Again, this is troubling, but a persistent narrative that we and many have seen, and we want to know that the social media platforms are taking steps to address it,” she continued. “That is inaccurate, false information. If you were a parent, you would look at that information, and that would naturally raise concerns, but it’s inaccurate. And that is an example of the kind of information that we are flagging or raising.”
The administration estimates that “12 people” account for 65% of the posts spreading vaccine misinformation on Facebook, and Psaki promised reporters on Friday the White House would supply data to back up that claim.
Psaki appeared to be referencing the “Disinformation Dozen” report compiled by the Center for Countering Digital Hate in May, which named author Joseph Mercola, who called Psaki’s claim “nefarious, ominous and a complete violation of my freedom of speech,” as one of its top 12 spreaders of disinformation.
“As the primary carriers of information, a few social media platforms have met utility criteria,” he wrote. “When a government collaborates with business to censor citizens, it is illegal.”
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More than 33 million cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the U.S., and 606,190 deaths have been attributed to the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 336 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, resulting in 160.7 million people being fully vaccinated in the U.S., the CDC added.