UPDATE 2-Biden says Facebook and others are ‘killing people’ by spreading misinformation about COVID

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By Nandita Bose and Elizabeth Culliford

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden said on Friday that social media platforms like Facebook are “killing people” for allowing false information about coronavirus vaccines to be posted on his platform, as he The administration continued to criticize the company.

“They’re killing people.… Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” Biden told reporters in the White House when asked about the misinformation and what was his post to social media platforms such as Facebook Inc.

COVID-19 disinformation has proliferated during the pandemic on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube owned by Alphabet Inc. Researchers and lawmakers have long accused Facebook of not controlling harmful content on its platforms.

The company has introduced rules against specific misrepresentation about COVID-19 and its vaccines, and says it is providing people with reliable information on these topics.

“We will not be distracted by accusations that are not supported by the facts,” Facebook spokesman Kevin McAlister said on Friday. “The point is, over 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 to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period,” he said.

Twitter and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is now the dominant strain worldwide, accompanied by a wave of deaths in the United States almost entirely among unvaccinated people, US officials said on Friday.

U.S. cases of COVID-19 https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/united-states are up 70% from the previous week and the deaths are up 26%, with outbreaks occurring in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low.

Earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki also slammed Facebook.

“Obviously, they’ve taken action. It’s a private sector business, Psaki said at a White House briefing.“ They can take additional action. Clearly there are others that can be taken. “

On Thursday, she said https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-surgeon-general-warns-over-covid-19-misinformation-2021-07-15 that the Biden administration was in regular contact with Facebook and reported problematic posts.

Psaki said 12 people were responsible for nearly 65% ​​of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. The discovery was reported in May by the Washington and London-based nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, but Facebook took issue with the methodology.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has also sounded the alarm in the face of the growing wave of misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines. On Thursday, he said it was getting harder to fight the pandemic and save lives.

(Additional report by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Franklin Paul, Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)

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