Many experts and researchers hoped that when US President Joe Biden accused Facebook of "killing people" for disseminating misinformation about the Corona vaccine in July 2021, it would be the beginning of a White House battle against the flow of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Six months later, the deluge of misinformation continues, and COVID-19 deaths have reached their highest level in over a year, with more than 2,600 people dying on average per day. According to Reuters, non-vaccinated people die at a much higher rate than those who receive vaccines.
"There was a big problem with false vaccine information a year ago, and it's still big," said David Lazar, co-director of the COVID States project. "Fighting misinformation necessitates continuous focus, attention, and effort," he added.
A Reuters review of the president's speeches and comments since July 16, 2021, found that Biden had never publicly blamed Facebook or any other company for disseminating misinformation. According to the study, Biden delivered 24 speeches on COVID-19 specifically.
According to a Reuters review of the president's speeches and comments since July 16, 2021, Biden has not publicly blamed Facebook or any other company for disseminating misinformation. The study also revealed that Biden delivered 24 speeches on COVID-19 specifically.
According to Reuters White House logs, Biden also did not issue an executive order or make an anti-disinformation announcement, as he had done thirty times on other epidemic topics.
"The administration has been in constant contact with social media sites, as well as leaders and the media, about the critical importance of ensuring that inaccurate information is not published," a White House official said. "The meetings include discussing their work to combat and hold accountable harmful information."
In a January poll conducted by COVID States Project, an American research group that attempted to understand why many Americans did not want the vaccine, the majority of health care workers stated that false information about the vaccine was "the only and most important factor influencing the decision of unvaccinated patients not to get the COVID-19 vaccine."
"Social media platforms, notably Facebook, continue to be one of the most popular sources of misinformation that negatively affects patients," they added.
A Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the Reuters report. However, the company has previously stated that it had deleted more than 24 million posts containing COVID-19 information globally and had warned people of more than 195 million additional posts.
According to a YouTube spokesman, the company had removed the channels of numerous known users who posted misinformation about the vaccine. It had removed more than 130,000 videos with misleading information about the COVID-19 vaccine since October 2020.
According to White House sources, experts, and researchers who worked with the White House on the issue, Biden had few legal options because Article 230 of the Communications Ethics Law barred social media companies from accepting responsibility for what users posted on their platforms.
"There's a major concern when you're attempting to legislate and engage in anti-corporate battles," said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, who worked with the White House on the issue last year.
"The best that can be done is to urge companies to act, which we did a lot of last year," said one source to Reuters.
According to Reuters, there have been four instances since July 16 in which Vice President Joe Biden has referred to misinformation on social media. He previously stated that "Facebook doesn't kill people" and added, "I wasn't attacking Facebook." Misinformation was also brought up six times in the context of a concern, but no specific social media companies were mentioned.