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'Facebook Isn't Killing People': Biden Walks Back Critique of Platforms Over COVID Misinformation

© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstU.S. President Biden delivers remarks on the economy at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Biden delivers remarks on the economy at the White House in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.07.2021
In a Friday statement, Facebook communications manager Dani Lever challenged US President Joe Biden's assertion that social media platforms like Facebook are "killing people" by serving as a public forum for COVID-19 misinformation. Lever declared that "Facebook is helping save lives," and the US president's accusations "aren't supported by facts."
After delivering remarks on Monday about the US economy's pathway to recovery, Biden clarified to reporters that his administration does not believe Facebook and other social media platforms are single-handedly "killing people" with misinformation. 
"Facebook isn't killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation," he said, making reference to a May report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a US-UK-funded nonprofit organisation. "Anyone listening to [the misinformation] is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information."
The CCDH report claimed 12 individuals dubbed the "disinformation dozen" are responsible for around 65 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine misinformation disseminated on social media.
Facebook has questioned the methodology of the CCDH report and issued a same-day rebuke of the Biden administration's claims that their social media platform is not doing enough to counter the spread of misinformation and anti-vaccine sentiments. In addition to Biden's Friday comments, both White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have sounded the alarm over the need to combat COVID-19 misinformation. 
Biden told reporters on Monday that instead of Facebook getting "personally" offended by his administration's comments, the conglomerate should "do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the [COVID-19] vaccine." 
"That's what I meant," he concluded. 
When asked whether he will hold social media platforms responsible for being public forums for COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, the US president declared that he'ss "not trying to hold people accountable." 
"I'm trying to make people look at themselves," he said. "Look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relative, someone you love. That's what I'm asking." 
While Biden has expressed no plans to directly hold Facebook accountable for the spread of anti-vaccine sentiments, it is known that the White House will be working with Facebook to flag "problematic posts" on the platform, according to Psaki's Thursday comments to reporters. 
Facebook and the White House have yet to expound on their criteria for determining what makes a social media post "problematic."
At the same time, "trusted content" from the White House will be "boosted" on Facebook.
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