For much of the past year, Facebook has been fighting an uphill battle against COVID-19 misinformation. From conspiracy theories about the disease itself to dangerous anti-vax content, the platform has faced sharp criticism from advocates and lawmakers. But perhaps the strongest critique of all came last week from the president of the United States, who said that Facebook’s misinformation problem is “killing people.”
For its part, Facebook responded strongly to the president’s words, saying that he’s seeking to find a “scapegoat” for his administration’s failure to reach its vaccination goals by July 4. The company also said that they have helped connect 3.3 million Americans with vaccination appointments. However, the surgeon general agreed with the president’s comments, pressuring Facebook to “take responsibility” for the scope of the misinformation problem.
“Intention is good, but at the end of the day it doesn’t save the life of somebody who is misled by misinformation on these sites, who didn’t get vaccinated, who got sick and lost their life as a result,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said. “I’m asking these companies to step up and take responsibility for what’s happening on their side. I’m asking them to look out for the people across this country who—whose lives depend on having access to accurate information.”
As this war of words continues to escalate, it’s clear that Facebook believes it’s doing everything it can to address the problem. However, as the president and countless others have pointed out, there’s clearly steps that still need to be taken to protect users from dangerously false information.
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