Coronavirus Pandemic

US President Joe Biden says social media misinformation on Covid ‘killing people’


Last updated on July 17, 2021 at 11.34 pm

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that social media misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccinations is “killing people” and the White House said Facebook needs to clean up its act.

“They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” Biden told reporters at the White House, as he left for a weekend at the presidential retreat in Camp David.

The White House is turning up the pressure on social media companies to weed out what officials say is widely spread misinformation on coronavirus vaccinations.

According to US health officials, a current spike in Covid-19 deaths and illnesses around the country is almost exclusively hitting people who remain unvaccinated. “There is a clear message that is coming through: this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.

Many of those refusing vaccinations, despite the ease of availability throughout the US, have said they do not trust the shots.

Scepticism is being fuelled both by false posts spread by anti-vaccine activists online.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Facebook and others are not doing enough to push back.

Psaki said the White House was taking a more active approach in calling out what it sees as misinformation but insisted that Facebook in particular should react more quickly in taking down problematic posts.

“There’s about 12 people who are producing 65 per cent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on FB, despite some even being banned on other platforms,” Psaki said, without identifying those dozen posters.