- Joe Biden said vaccine misinformation on platforms like Facebook is “killing people.”
- Facebook responded by saying vaccine hesitancy among its users has fallen 50% since April 2020.
- Facebook said Biden is trying to blame it for missing his goal of 60% vaccination by July 4.
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Facebook is firing back at Joe Biden for claiming the social media site is responsible for vaccine hesitancy.
President Joe Biden said Friday that social media platforms like Facebook are “killing people” by allowing vaccine misinformation to spread.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, published the company’s full rebuttal in a blog post on Saturday.
“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,” Rosen said.
Rosen said Facebook has been working with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland since April 2020 to survey its users, with 70 million responses collected so far.
“For people in the US on Facebook, vaccine hesitancy has declined by 50%; and they are becoming more accepting of vaccines every day,” said Rosen.
Rosen also specifically took aim at Biden’s goal to get 70% of American adults vaccinated by July 4.
“The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed,” Rosen said.
As of Sunday, 56% of adults in the US have received vaccinations.
Facebook previously told Insider in a statement the Biden administration was using it as a “scapegoat.” In his blogpost Rosen outlined the various pro-vaccine initiatives Facebook has undertaken, including introducing specialized rules on misinformation around vaccines and setting up vaccine pop-up clinics.
Although it’s hard to measure the direct impact of vaccine misinformation, in March The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) published a report that said most anti-vaxx misinformation is only spread by a dozen accounts. These twelve accounts have a combined following of 59 million people worldwide according to the CCDH, with Facebook making up the biggest chunk of that following.
Among those twelve accounts is Robert F Kennedy Jr, John F Kennedy’s nephew. Facebook took down Kennedy’s Instagram account in February, but not his Facebook page.
CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed told Insider in February that to properly crack down on vaccine misinformation, Facebook needs to fully deplatform big-name misinformation spreaders like Kennedy.
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