Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House does “clearly not” find Facebook’s action on vaccine misinformation sufficient. Since the rise of COVID-19, the outlet has been plagued with misinformation on the pandemic and vaccines, spurring some to not get vaccinated.
The social media platform has responded to the previous White House criticism of their handling of rampant misinformation involving COVID-19 and vaccines. Facebook claimed they removed 10 million pieces of COVID misinformation, and have connected more than 2 billion people to reliable information.
Psaki made clear that the administration didn’t think that was enough, citing the days-long delays when it comes to taking misinformation down. Psaki and the Biden administration have said that the platform takes too long to remove the false claims and many will be able to see it.
Psaki addressed prominent narratives that have arisen like the disproven claim that the vaccines cause infertility.
She said it’s the “responsibility of the members of the media”, as well as civic leaders and voices of the community to combat disinformation.
Psaki shut down claims from a Fox News reporter that the administration has been “spying on people’s Facebook profiles”, asserting that the administration is in regular touch with social media platforms and that the information is all public.
She also addressed the White House claim that 12 people are producing 65% of the misinformation on vaccines on social media platforms.
“There’s no secret list, I will tell that these are people who are sharing information on public platforms, on Facebook,” said Psaki, addressing the reporter, “our biggest concern here, and frankly I think it should be your biggest concern, is the number of people who are dying around the country because they’re getting misinformation.”
The White House has begun to call COVID-19 the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as data shows that over 90% of the people hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Those that do catch COVID-19 are also primarily falling ill with the highly transmissible Delta variant, according to CDC data. The statistics led Psaki to push the consistent White House message around vaccines.
“Getting vaccinated, you can save yourself,” said Psaki.
The White House will continue its months-long effort to get people vaccinated, including their recent inclusion of pop star Olivia Rodrigo in a press briefing and an upcoming Nascar event called the “Get Vaccinated 200”.
“We recognize that we need to meet people where they are,” said Psaki on vaccine efforts, “including as we use partnerships and engage with media.”
Psaki touched briefly on Biden’s continued stance on voting rights, calling it a “cause of his presidency”. On Tuesday, the President called on Congress to urgently pass federal voting legislation.
Biden also said he called for activists to act on the issue, a move Psaki said was about creating a “grassroots movement that’s led by the American people”. She made clear that Biden didn’t want the activists to do the work alone, but said activism was part of creating change in the nation.
Yet yesterday saw the arrest of Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OHIO-D) and eight other people at a voting rights protest at the Capitol. The protest was calling for passage of the For the People Act, as well as the filibuster.
Despite a rising push to end the filibuster, Biden has not made any indication that he would support the end of the policy.
On the arrests, Psaki said the administration supports the “right to peacefully protest”, but made no specific comment on the arrests of the Congresswoman and other protestors.