The US president has toughened his tone against the big tech groups, asking them to fight more against false information about vaccines, as the country sees the emergence of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
US President Joe Biden accused major social media operators on Friday of “Kill people” by letting false information about vaccines circulate as the United States tries to revive a sluggish vaccination campaign. “They kill people. The only pandemic we have is affecting people who are not vaccinated. They kill people ”, he replied to a question about what his message was to groups such as Facebook, as he was about to leave the White House by helicopter.
“The message reaching us is clear: we are starting to witness a pandemic of the unvaccinated”, launched Friday Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main federal public health agency, at a press conference. Over the past seven days, the United States has recorded an average of 27,800 new cases daily – up 64% from the previous week -, 2,890 hospitalizations (+ 36%) and 223 deaths (+ 38%). “People not vaccinated represent almost all hospitalizations and deaths”, noted Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the response to the pandemic at the White House.
This resurgence of the disease is fueled by the Delta variant, which now represents more than 80% of new cases, according to the specialized site cov-spectrum. The vaccines currently available in the United States, from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, remain very effective in protecting against it, but the vaccination campaign has slowed down considerably in recent weeks in the country. Joe Biden’s goal that 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4, National Day, has not been met. This rate caps 12 days later at 68%.
Faced with this bogged down campaign, the White House has significantly toughened its tone this week against the big tech groups, asking them to fight more against false information about vaccines. Disinformation “Costs lives”US chief medical officer Vivek Murthy said on Friday. “Tech groups have let disinformation pollute our environment”, he added, asking them to act “Quickly and consistently against the biggest broadcasters” false information. Biden administration spokeswoman Jen Psaki specifically targeted Facebook on Thursday.
“There are about 12 people who produce 65% of the misinformation hostile to vaccines on social media. All remain active on Facebook, while some have been banned from other platformsShe had said. The White House, however, did not immediately give details of these 12 people, or how this score was made. “Facebook needs to be faster to delete dangerous and rule-breaking messages, messages that break their rules often persist for days. It is too long”, Jen Psaki had said.
On Friday, the social network swept away these criticisms, instead boasting of “save lives”. “Facts Show Facebook Helps Save Lives, Period”, assured the social network in a press release, listing a series of measures that he said allow its users to have better access to the vaccine. Mark Zuckerberg’s group also defended, in response to comments on Thursday, claiming to have already withdrawn “More than 18 million copies of disinformation on the Covid” and “Disseminated reliable information on Covid-19 and vaccines to more than 2 billion people.” “We have formed partnerships with government experts, health authorities and researchers to act aggressively against disinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines”, had also assured Facebook.