Facebook responds to Biden’s criticism over COVID-19 information
Facebook is responding to President Joe Biden’s claim that the social media network is not doing enough to censor posts that contain misinformation about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"At a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in America, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies," the company said in a statement on Saturday. "While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic."
The company further added that more and more of its U.S. users are getting the COVID-19 vaccine and the total number has increased from 70% to about 80-85%.
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Facebook said it has even stepped up its efforts to decrease vaccination hesitancy.
"We’re continuing to encourage everyone to use these tools to show their friends they’ve been vaccinated," the statement read.
The company said it has also taken steps to remove 18 million instances of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the White House is working to flag "problematic posts" found on Facebook which spread disinformation.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy also sounded the alarm for Facebook and its users to help stop the growing wave of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
"We need an all-of-society approach to fight misinformation. And that’s why this advisory that I issued today has recommendations for everyone," Murthy said.
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Psaki noted that despite Facebook’s reputed efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, the company is not doing enough.
"There's about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including Facebook — ones that Facebook owns," Psaki said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 160 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, representing 48.5% of the country’s total population.
In the U.S., the vaccination rate seemed to have peaked in April when the country was averaging more than 3 million administered shots a week. Today, the country averages more than 400,000 administered shots a week with the number continuing to trend downward.
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U.S. health officials worry the lag in vaccinations could hinder progress in ending the pandemic.
Cases of COVID-19 have tripled in the U.S. over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. While the rates are still sharply down from their January highs, officials are concerned by the reversing trends and what they consider needless illness and death. And cases are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks.
More than 99% of COVID-19 deaths and 97% of hospitalizations are among people who have not been vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Austin Williams and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.