President Joe Biden walked backed his criticism that social media platforms like Facebook are "killing people" with misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, clarifying on Monday that the company should do more to halt the spread of misinformation, The Hill reported.
Referring to a study that discovered that a mere dozen accounts on Facebook produce the majority of misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine existing on the platform, Biden told reporters that "Facebook isn’t killing people, 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."
The president stressed that "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, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That's what I meant."
When asked how he might hold Facebook and other technology giants accountable for what appears on their platforms, Biden said "I’m trying to make people look at themselves. Look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter. That’s all I’m asking."
Biden’s remarks came after he said on Friday, when asked what his message was to companies like Facebook about the spread of misinformation, "They’re killing people. I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s - they’re killing people."
Facebook responded to those comments by saying on Sunday that its platform had helped millions of users become aware of helpful information about the vaccines and rejected that it is responsible for the Biden administration's failure to meet its goal of having 70% of adults get at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.
Following Biden’s comments on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the administration is "not in a war or battle with Facebook" but in a "battle with the virus," CNN reported.
Asked whether Biden's remarks indicate there will be no regulatory actions on the issue, Psaki said: "I don't think we've taken any options off the table. That's up to Congress to determine how they want to proceed moving forward."
The tension over the issue comes as the Biden administration has increased its messaging about vaccinations and decided to more aggressively fight what it sees as activity harming the effort, Politico reported.
Despite the risk posed by the delta variant, the pace of vaccinations has slowed down considerably. Areas of the United States continue to be hostile to receiving the vaccination, even though almost all of those being hospitalized or dying due to COVID-19 in the U.S. are those who are unvaccinated.
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