President Joe Biden received significant attention in recent days for his attack on social media firms for allowing “misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines to spread on their platforms.
Although he insisted on Friday that Facebook is “killing people” with its policies, the president has since walked back his incendiary remark.
“We will not be distracted”
According to Mediaite, Biden reacted to the backlash in a statement declaring: “Facebook isn’t killing people.”
The increased attention on social media misinformation came in the context of a recent report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which asserted that nearly two-thirds of all anti-vaccine information circulating on such sites could be traced to 12 individuals collectively dubbed the “Disinformation Dozen.”
As Biden left the White House for the weekend, a reporter asked about his message for “platforms like Facebook” in terms of misinformation.
“They’re killing people,” he replied. “I mean, it really — look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”
Facebook was clearly not pleased with the insinuation and released a defiant statement defending its own actions and insisting: “We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
“It’s bad information”
Days later, Biden took a handful of questions following his White House speech about the economy.
“I had to read that — on the Facebook — Facebook pointed out that — it was pointed out that Facebook, of all the misinformation, 60% of that misinformation came from 12 individuals,” Biden rambled. “That’s what the article said.”
As for his own remarks on Friday, the president asserted: “Facebook isn’t killing people; these 12 people who are out there giving misinformation — anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information.”
Biden went on to say that he hopes that Facebook would not take his criticism “personally” but would instead “do something about the … misinformation about the vaccine.”
He continued his effort to redefine his earlier remarks, claiming that he is merely “trying to make people look at themselves” and “think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relatives, someone you love.”