US President Joe Biden has warned that the spread of Covid-19 misinformation on social media is “killing people”. He was responding to a question from a reporter about the alleged role of “platforms like Facebook” in spreading falsehoods about vaccines and the pandemic. The White House has been increasing pressure on social media companies to tackle disinformation.
“They’re killing people,” Mr Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.” US health officials have warned that the country’s current spike in Covid-19 deaths and infections is exclusively hitting unvaccinated communities. “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 told reporters on Friday. Many of those refusing vaccinations, despite the ease of availability throughout the United States, have said they do not trust the shots. Facebook says it is taking “aggressive action” to protect public health. Skepticism is being fueled both by false posts spread by anti-vaccine activists online and by Republican politicians claiming the vaccinations are part of attempts at government control. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Facebook and others are not doing enough to push back.
“Everybody has a role to play in making sure there’s accurate information,” she said. 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.