Misinformation spreading on social media platforms and cable television is fueling vaccine hesitancy, President BidenJoe BidenFederal class action lawsuit filed over treatment of Haitian migrants Staffer who had contact with Biden tests positive for COVID-19 Overnight Defense & National Security — New rules try to tackle extremism in the ranks MORE said Tuesday.
“The unvaccinated are responsible for their own choices. But those choices have been fueled by dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media,” Biden said during remarks about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These companies and personalities are making money by peddling lies and allowing misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own supporters. It’s wrong. It’s immoral. I call on the bearers of these lies and misinformation to stop it, stop it now,” he added.
Biden’s comments Tuesday come as the omicron variant spreads across the country, now making up about three-quarters of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden said that vaccinated Americans, especially those who have received a booster shot, will be largely protected from severe illness from the omicron variant and made a plea for anyone who has yet to get vaccinated to do so.
“Let me say again and again and again and again, please get vaccinated. It’s the only responsible thing to do. Those who are not vaccinated are causing hospitals to become overrun again,” he said.
The latest comments build on the administration’s pressure for social media companies to crack down on health misinformation.
In July, Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Charter Communications – Meadows held in contempt; Biden hasn’t moved Manchin The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Charter Communications – Manchin not ready yet; Meadows texts unveiled Jill Biden, Emhoff expected to meet with Waukesha victims and families MORE issued an advisory calling misinformation an “urgent threat” and calling for tech companies to take action against the false claims. At the time, Biden went so far as to say social media platforms are “killing people” by allowing the content, but later walked it back by placing the blame on the spreaders of the misinformation using platforms like Facebook.
Social media companies have defended their handling of vaccine misinformation.
For example, Facebook has touted its COVID-19 information center as a way to combat misinformation. Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth, set to become the chief technical officer for Meta, earlier this month said the company isn’t responsible for mitigating the spread of misinformation on its platform.
“What more can you do if some people who are going to get that real information from a real source choose not to get it?” he said in an interview with “Axios on HBO.”
“That’s their choice. They’re allowed to do that,” he added. “You have an issue with those people. You don’t have an issue with Facebook. You can’t put that on me.”