- President Biden walked back his comments from last week that Facebook is “killing people.”
- Facebook had taken issue with his comments and posted a blog titled “Moving Past the Finger Pointing.”
- Biden said he hoped Facebook would crack down on misinformation and not take what he said “personally.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden on Monday walked back his comments about Facebook “killing people,” but called on the company to work harder to remove misinformation on its platform.
“Facebook isn’t killing people,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday. “These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information.” The president was referring to a report published over the weekend that found the majority of anti-vaccine misinformation originated from 12 people on Facebook, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Biden said he hoped Facebook would not take his comments “personally” but use them as a catalyst to remove misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.
-The Recount (@therecount) July 19, 2021
Biden made headlines on Friday when he said Facebook was “killing people” because of the misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines that is posted on the social media platform.
Facebook pushed back on his remarks.
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” a Facebook spokesperson told Insider on Friday. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine.”
Biden’s comments came after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy last week issued his first advisory in a 22-page report calling misinformation a threat to public health.
Facebook’s handling of misinformation related to COVID-19 has taken center stage since the pandemic set in last year. Public pressure on the firm – and its big tech peers – to moderate content more efficiently has only intensified due to social unrest surrounding the police killing of George Floyd, as well as the divisive 2020 presidential election.
Scrutiny of the tech industry is largely bipartisan, and Biden himself has advocated for at least reforming the legal protections afforded to internet platforms.