President Biden backs down after he made a surprise comment last week that Facebook was “killing people” over misleading online information
US President Joe Biden has backtracked after he made a controversial comment about Facebook and misleading Coronavirus information on the platform.
Last week President Biden was asked outside the White House what his message was to social media platforms such as Facebook regarding Covid disinformation. “They’re killing people,” Biden responded.
“I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s – they’re killing people,” Biden said last Friday.
Biden’s blunt assessment of Facebook and its position during the global Coronavirus pandemic seemed to have caught Mark Zuckerberg’s firm by surprise.
CNBC reported that Facebook reacted defensively, saying via a spokesperson that it “will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts.”
“The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives,” the spokesperson added.
The Biden comment came just a day after White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Biden administration had started “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” and that the government had proposed changes to major social media platforms.
But this week CNBC reported that President Biden has backed down over his previous statement, and on Monday said that he had meant to accuse a dozen users, but not the social media platform itself, of spreading deadly lies about Covid vaccines.
At the White House on Monday, Biden jumped at the chance to clarify his remarks when asked about the controversy by reporters.
“I’m glad you asked me that question,” Biden reportedly said after delivering a speech on the state of the economy.
Biden said that just before making the accusation that Facebook is “killing people,” he had read a report that 60 percent of the misinformation surrounding Covid vaccines had come from just a dozen social media accounts.
“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.
“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 said.
Facebook for its part has previously said it would remove false claims about Coronavirus that have been proven to be false by medical experts.
It said it wanted to keep people safe and informed about Covid-19, and part of that is removing false claims about Coronavirus vaccines.
But there is little doubt that there is frustration within the Biden administration that a significant portion of the US population have opted not to have the vaccine.
America has had 625,401 people die so far from Covid-19, and infection rates are rising amid the spread of the Delta variant in the country.
A staggering 99 percent of Americans who are dying from the disease have not been vaccinated.