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Facebook refutes White House criticism over vaccine misinformation, decries ‘finger pointing’

After being told by President Joe Biden and the American surgeon general last week that social media misinformation is killing Americans, Facebook Inc. had a blunt response over the weekend: Don’t blame us.

“At a time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the US, the Biden administration has chosen to blame some American social media companies,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook’s
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integrity vice president, wrote in a blog post on Saturday. He said the data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have or want to be vaccinated. “President Biden’s goal is that 70% of Americans get vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal has been missed.”

Last Thursday, general surgeon Dr Vivek Murthy called out misinformation about vaccines on social media. “A serious threat to public health.”

“Put simply, health misinformation has cost us our lives,” says Murthy.

That same day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed to Facebook specifically, telling reporters that “it needs to be quicker to remove offending posts.” Biden went one step further on Friday, to put it bluntly that Facebook and other social media companies are “killing people”.

In Saturday’s blog post, Facebook’s Rosen vehemently refuted those claims, arguing that Facebook has actually helped reduce vaccine hesitancy rates in the US by 50 percent, incentivizing users to immunize and eliminate Remove more than 18 million misinformation about vaccines. Manage Biden to prevent “pointing the finger”.

“While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a society-wide approach to end this pandemic. And the facts – not the allegations – will help inform that effort,” said Rosen. “The reality is that vaccine acceptance by Facebook users in the US has increased.”

The heated public exchanges come amid frustrations from the White House following months of fruitless discussions about vetting vaccine misinformation with Facebook, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. According to the report, the Biden administration decided that public pressure on Facebook could be more effective.

The White House did not publicly comment on Facebook’s response on Sunday, but Murthy’s appearance on CNN stuck to his message. “I’m very consistent in what I tell tech companies,” he told CNN “State of the Union.” “When we see steps as good, we should note those steps. But what I also told them, publicly and privately, was that it wasn’t enough. That we are still seeing an increase in misinformation online. And we know that health misinformation harms people’s health. It costs them their lives.”

In the same interview, Murthy said he was worried by the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, and noted that nearly all coronavirus deaths in the United States are now among unvaccinated cases. To date, about 49% of Americans are fully vaccinated, while 90 million eligible people in the US are not.

Facebook shares fell nearly 3% last week, but are up 25% year over year and up 41% over the past 12 months.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/facebook-refutes-white-house-criticism-over-vaccine-misinformation-decries-finger-pointing-11626649622?rss=1&siteid=rss

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