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Misinformation on social media platforms ‘killing people’ says Biden

US President Joe Biden has declared that social media companies are ‘killing people’ by failing to police misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine on their platforms. Considering that US officials advised that nearly all deaths and serious illnesses from the flu virus can be prevented with vaccines. Mr. Biden’s remarks came a day after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said misinformation about vaccines is a threat to public health.

When reporters asked Mr. Biden,  if he had a message for platforms like Facebook that spread false information about the Coronavirus vaccine, he replied, ‘They’re killing people.’  In his view, there is only one pandemic among the unvaccinated, he said. On Thursday, Dr.Murthy described COVID-19, deemed as an ‘infodemic’ by the WHO, as deadly. Murthy cited that misinformation is among a range of reasons why some Americans are not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 despite vaccinations being widely available.

‘Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,’ Murthy said during remarks to reporters Thursday at the White House. “We must confront misinformation as a nation. Lives are depending on it.’ Given the role the internet plays in spreading health misinformation, Murthy said technology companies and social media platforms must make meaningful improvements to their products and software to reduce the spread of misinformation and increase access to authoritative, fact-based sources.

Too often, he said, the platforms are built to encourage, not counter, the spread of misinformation. ‘We are asking them to step up,’ Murthy said. ‘We can’t wait longer for them to take aggressive action.’ Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever responded: ‘We are not going to be distracted from the facts by malicious accusations. Thousands of people access authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, more than any other website’.

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The vaccine finder tool has also been used by more than 3.3 million Americans to locate vaccination clinics and dosage information. According to Lever, Facebook is helping save lives. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves around the world, Twitter plans to do its part to elevate authoritative health information.


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