Facebook called out President Joe Biden and top administration officials for asserting that social media companies are part of the problem when it comes to coronavirus misinformation circulating on their platforms, with the tech giant alleging that the White House was “looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals.”
Tension rose between the Biden administration and social media companies after Biden told reporters Friday that Facebook and other platforms were “killing people” by not restricting content considered to be vaccine misinformation.
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said in a statement.
“The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet,” she continued. “More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine.”
A Facebook official told NBC News later on Friday that the company had “private exchanges” with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who “praised our work, including our efforts to inform people about COVID-19.”
“They knew what they were doing,” the Facebook official said. “The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals.”
The Facebook official is alluding to Biden’s goal of having at least 70 percent of U.S. adults receive at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4 not being met.
This comes after Murthy said Thursday that health misinformation is an “urgent threat” to the Biden administration’s push to increase COVID-19 vaccinations. He said that vaccine misinformation can be attributed to why some Americans are hesitant to receive the shot.
Murthy’s advisory called on social media companies to ramp up their efforts to combat misinformation posted on their platforms. He said the posts “can cause confusion, sow distrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also said this week that the Biden administration is “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation” about the coronavirus vaccine.
The 70 percent vaccination mark that Biden hoped would be met by the Fourth of July still has not been reached as only 68 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 60 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated.