Biden backs away from his claim that Facebook is 'killing people' by allowing Covid misinformation
President Joe Biden continued to put pressure on Facebook on Monday over the online dissemination of Covid-19 vaccine information, but backed off his recent accusation that the company was directly responsible for "killing people" and suggested it was merely allowing misinformation to spread.
Asked by CNN about the comment, Biden said, "I meant precisely what I said. I'm glad you asked me that question."
"Facebook isn't killing people -- 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," Biden said, appearing to cite data from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). A report published by the organization in March indicated that about a dozen people were super-spreaders of anti-vaccine misinformation.
"My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That's what I meant," the President continued, following a speech at the White House about the state of the economy.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated late last week that the Biden White House "clearly" didn't find Facebook's response to misinformation sufficient. But asked on Monday whether the platform had done enough, Biden said he was unsure about the company's more recent efforts.
"To be completely honest with you, I don't know that they did anything today, up to the weekend. I don't think they had. But I don't know, I don't know the answer to that question," he said.
And asked whether he would take steps to hold the company accountable if they don't do more, Biden said, "I'm not trying to hold people accountable, I'm trying to make people look at themselves, look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter, your relative, someone you love. That's what I'm asking."