President Joe Biden told reporters Monday that Facebook isn’t killing people, just days after appearing to accuse the social media company of doing just that.
Biden spoke to reporters briefly on Friday as he left the White House and was asked if he had a message to platforms like Facebook regarding COVID-19 misinformation. The administration announced last week that it is working with Facebook to flag “disinformation” surrounding the virus and the vaccines.
“They’re killing people,” Biden said Friday. “I mean, they’re really – Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”
The president appeared to backtrack on these comments Monday, telling reporters that “Facebook isn’t killing people.”
Biden suggested his Friday comments weren’t specifically accusing Facebook of killing people, but rather were in reference to the 12 individuals allegedly responsible for the majority of COVID-19 misinformation. A report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) cited by the White House found that 65% of misinformation on Facebook comes from just 12 people.
“Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation, anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it,” the president explained after giving remarks on the economy. “It’s killing people. It’s bad information.” (RELATED: REPORT: The DNC Wants Phone Companies To Police Text Messages For Vaccine Misinformation)
Biden said he hopes Facebook doesn’t take “it personally” and instead chooses to “do something” to combat the misinformation. Facebook pushed back on Biden’s earlier comments over the weekend and provided data it argued shows the platform isn’t responsible for people not getting vaccinated and subsequently dying from the virus.
“While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, wrote in a blog post Saturday. “And facts — not allegations — should help inform that effort. The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased. These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days.”
Biden, when asked if Facebook has done enough in stopping the spread of alleged misinformation, said he wasn’t sure. Rosen argued in the blog post that the social media company taken “action against” COVID-19 misinformation when it pops up.
“To be completely honest with you, I don’t know that they did anything today, up to over the weekend, I don’t think they had. But I don’t know,” Biden said.