Biden unleashes his growing frustration with social media

Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Cecilia Kang 3 minutes

The US President said that platforms like Facebook were ‘killing people’ by allowing disinformation about the coronavirus vaccine to spread online

Joe Biden

President Biden unleashed his growing frustration with social media on Friday, saying that platforms like Facebook were “killing people” by allowing disinformation about the coronavirus vaccine to spread online.


Biden’s forceful statement capped weeks of anger in the White House over the dissemination of vaccine disinformation online, even as the pace of inoculations slows and health officials warn of the rising danger of the Delta variant.

Just before boarding Marine One for a weekend in Camp David in Maryland, Biden was asked what his message was to social media platforms when it came to Covid-19 disinformation.

“They’re killing people,” he said. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”

Biden’s comments signalled a more aggressive approach to vaccine hesitancy after weeks of coaxing Americans to get vaccinated and dispatching officials and volunteers door to door to encourage people to get shots. He spoke a day after the surgeon general of the US used his first formal advisory to criticise tech and social media companies to stop dangerous health information that presents “an urgent threat to public health”.

The Biden administration has warned of the spread of misinformation about vaccines and the coronavirus from a range of sources, including politicians and news outlets. But this week, White House officials went further and singled out social media companies for allowing false information to proliferate.

That came after weeks of failed attempts to get Facebook to turn over information detailing what mechanisms were in place to combat misinformation about the vaccine, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“Our point is that there is information that is leading to people not taking the vaccine, and people are dying as a result,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said.


New York Times News Service

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