After US President Joe Biden said that social media platforms like Facebook are “killing people” with Covid-19 misinformation, the social network giant has replied saying that facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days.
Guy Rosen, VP of Integrity at Facebook, said in a blog post on Saturday that at a time when Covid-19 cases are rising in the US, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies.
“While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic. And facts, not allegations, should help inform that effort. The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased,” Rosen argued.
In an interaction with the media on Friday, Biden had directly criticised Facebook.
Asked for a message to social media platforms like Facebook, Biden replied: “They’re killing people… The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”
Rosen said that the Biden administration is calling for a whole of society approach to this challenge.
“We agree. As a company, we have devoted unprecedented resources to the fight against the pandemic, pointing people to reliable information and helping them find and schedule vaccinations. And we will continue to do so,” he posted.
According to him, since January vaccine acceptance on the part of Facebook users in the US has increased by 10-15 percentage points and racial and ethnic disparities in acceptance have shrunk considerably.
“The data shows that 85 per cent of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against Covid-19. President Biden’s goal was for 70 per cent of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed,” Rosen said.
The social network said that since the pandemic began, more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about Covid-19 and vaccines on Facebook. This includes more than 3.3 million Americans using the vaccine finder tool to find out where to get a Covid-19 vaccine and make an appointment to do so.
“More than 50 per cent of people in the US on Facebook have already seen someone use the Covid-19 vaccine profile frames, which we developed in collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC,” Rosen informed.
Last week, a report from US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on social media platforms to tame accounts that share misinformation.
“They’ve designed product features, such as ‘Like’ buttons, that reward us for sharing emotionally charged content, not accurate content. And their algorithms tend to give us more of what we click on, pulling us deeper and deeper into a well of misinformation,” he told reporters.