US Congressman Says Amazon & Facebook Profit From Antivaccine Misinformation
01:59 GMT 10.09.2021 (Updated: 18:23 GMT 03.11.2022)
Major social media platforms have been caught in the crossfire since the problem of moderating content has escalated in recent months. While some claim that tech companies have gone too far in removing and marking biased content, others believe that they must impose stricter rules over misinformation.
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff called on the major networks Amazon and Facebook to strengthen the fight against misinformation related to the vaccination against COVID-19.
In letters, sent to the companies on Thursday, he accused them of “directly profiting from the sensationalism of antivaccine misinformation,” attributing it to algorithm and recommendation system that spread content, alleging the vaccines are ineffective, contain microchips and may result in infertility among women.
“Recent investigations have shown that anti-vaccine audiences have grown to 37.8 million followers on Facebook and Instagram,” Schiff wrote, citing a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
The controversy over misinformation on social media and the way it has been moderated has intensified since the latest US presidential elections, after which the previous US president was blocked in major platforms. Trump and many Republicans claim the social networks are limiting free speech when removing posts related to baseless claims of electoral fraud.
US President Joe Biden, along with other officials and lawmakers, have complaints of a very different kind, claiming, among other things, that platforms are not taking enough measures to fight conspiracy theories including the anti-vaccination campaign.
Shortly after the new administration came in, representatives of major social media platforms, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, testified in a Congressional hearing over misinformation to respond to accusations related to uncontrolled activity and misinformation.
Earlier in July, Biden harshly criticized Facebook for not doing enough to tackle the spread of coronavirus vaccine misinformation. When asked by a reporter about the role of companies like Facebook in spreading false content about vaccinations and the COVID-19 pandemic, he replied that social networks "are killing people.”
According to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, most of the inappropriate posts on Facebook were made by "12 people," who were said to be accountable for "65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms."
Responding to criticism, Facebook claimed that the platform contributed to sharing scientific evidence that vaccines can prevent severe coronavirus syndrome, and over 3.3 million Americans choose their type of immunization via the platform’s tools.