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‘Facebook isn’t killing people,’ says Biden as he walks back criticism

President Biden on Monday softened his criticism that platforms like Facebook are “killing people” with misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, saying he wishes the company would do more to stop the spread of inaccurate information.

“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 told reporters after giving remarks about the economy, referencing a study that showed a dozen accounts on Facebook are responsible for the majority of misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine seen on the platform.

“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,” Biden added. “That’s what I meant.”

Asked if he felt Facebook has done enough to curb misinformation on its platform, Biden said he didn’t think they had as of the last few days, but did not know for sure.

“I’m trying to make people look at themselves,” he said when asked how he might hold Facebook and other platforms accountable. “Look in the mirror. Think about that misinformation going to your son, your daughter. That’s all I’m asking.”

The White House last week set off a back-and-forth with the technology giant when administration officials stressed social media platforms needed to do more to stop the spread of misleading or false information about coronavirus vaccines that contribute to reluctance among many Americans to get the shot.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said officials have flagged harmful posts to the company in a bid to police misinformation, and Biden on Friday was asked what his message was to companies like Facebook on the topic.

“They’re killing people,” Biden told reporters at the time. “I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people,” he added.

Facebook shot back on Sunday that its platform had helped millions of users access helpful information about the vaccines and disputed it is responsible for the Biden administration’s inability to meet its goal of having 70 percent of adults get at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.

This story first appeared in The Hill, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/563699-biden-softens-criticism-facebook-isnt-killing-people

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