Facebook hit back against the president on Saturday Joe bidenIt’s the unusually blunt claim that social media companies are “killing people” by allowing vaccine misinformation to spread across their platforms. In a blog post subtly titled “Moving Past the Finger Pointing,” a Facebook official Guy Rosen sought to “tell a very different story than the one promoted by the administration in recent days” and suggested that the White House use Facebook as a scapegoat to explain its own pandemic shortcomings.
“Facebook is not the reason [Biden’s July 4 vaccination] target was missed, ”Rosen wrote, referring to the administration’s goal that 70% of adults in the United States get at least one shot by this date. “At a time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise in America, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies. “
Rosen has put together a bunch of bullets arguing that his company is not responsible for the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. He noted that “we have done our part in other areas” to promote the shot and asserted that “acceptance of the vaccine among Facebook users in the United States has increased.” The social media giant appeared to downplay the influence of anti-vaccination content and misinformation on its platform, as well as its broader role in the country’s public health battle. Rosen cited the higher vaccination figures in the UK and Canada, for example, to suggest “that there is more to the bottom line than Facebook in the US” and that “the facts – not the claims – should help inform this effort ”.
Rosen’s post did not address the vaccine misinformation on Instagram, which Facebook also owns.
This back-and-forth comes as the White House, faced with declining nationwide inoculation rates and the spread of the Delta variant, steps up its fight against the right-wing disinformation campaign that is believed to be contributing to the geographic disparity in vaccination rates. (U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently declared disinformation “an urgent threat to public health.”) Administration officials have started to take a harsher line against tech companies such as Facebook and Republican officials seen as not doing enough to combat anti-vaccination content or, in the case of conspiracy theorist Rep. . Marjorie Taylor Greene, actively contributing to it.
In recent months, Facebook has made changes to crack down on vaccine lies and limit content that actively discourages people from getting vaccinated, the New York Times Noted. But inaccurate information about the vaccine on social media platforms like Facebook persisted. The Biden administration’s attempt to do something about it has been complicated by Facebook’s repeated refusal to provide “even basic data on the amount of vaccine misinformation and whether the company’s efforts to stop its propagation work “, according to the Time.
Facebook is right to note that there are several factors behind the spread of health misinformation. Reluctance to immunize can be a complex and personal problem. But actors who amplify unfounded fears about the vaccine compound the problem. This includes Fox News, whose anti-vaccine scare campaign ran across the network, but mostly on Tucker Carlson tonight—The highest rated cable show in July. While Fox tried to mitigate the blame by defending Tucker carlson as an opinion leader, the network has nonetheless made the show a hotbed of vaccine resistance. Carlson’s playbook has been for months to amplify conspiracy theories and the rare negative side effects, demonize the Biden administration’s efforts to protect people due to government over-reach, and deal with generally a serious public health problem as fodder for cultural warfare.