WASHINGTON – Facebook was pressured on Saturday by the Biden administration to condemn a giant social media company for spreading false information about the Covid-19 vaccine, raising tensions between the Silicon Valley company and the White House.
In a blog post, Facebook called on the administration to stop “finger pointing” and outlined what it did to encourage users to get vaccinated. The social network also details how he captured a lie about the vaccine, which officials said people refused to give.
“The Biden administration has chosen to blame some of the most helpful companies in American social media,” said Guy Rose, Facebook’s vice president of integrity. “The fact is that vaccine acceptance has increased among Facebook users in the US.”
Mr. Rose added that the company’s data showed that 85 percent of its users in the United States were or wanted to be vaccinated against coronavirus. While President Biden set a goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Americans by July 4, which the White House lacked, “Facebook is not a reason to lose this goal,” Mr. Said Rose.
Facebook’s response following strong condemnation of the company by Mr. Biden. On Friday when asked about the role of social media in influencing vaccinations, Mr. Biden declared in unusually strong language that the platform “kills people.”
He added, “Look, the only epidemic we have is intolerant people, and that – and they’re killing people.”
Other White House officials have also raised more voices about how the vaccine spreads lies through social media.
On Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy accused social media companies of not doing enough to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation, calling it a national health crisis that increased vaccination hesitation among Americans. On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jane Sasaki also gave false information that “people are not getting vaccinated, and as a result people are dying.” He said the White House has a responsibility to raise this issue.
The White House declined to comment on Facebook’s blog post on Saturday.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have long struggled with their role as a platform for speech to protect their own users from dissemination campaigns, such as Russian attempts to influence the presidential election or false statements about the epidemic.
In recent months, Facebook has taken action against anti-vaccine ads and misrepresentations about vaccines. In October, he said he would no longer allow anti-vaccination ads on his platform. In February, the company further said it would remove posts with false claims about vaccines, including claims that vaccination causes autism or that people are safer to contract coronavirus than vaccines.
But there is no online misinformation about the vaccine. Lies have been spread that vaccines can alter DNA or that the vaccine does not work.
On Saturday Mr. Rose said in a blog post that among American users of Facebook, vaccine shrinkage has dropped by 50 percent since April and vaccine acceptance has increased from 10 to 15 percent to 70 percent to 80 percent.
“While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a holistic approach to society to end this epidemic.” Said Rose. “And the facts – not that – should help inform those efforts.”
The White House’s frustration with Facebook has been growing for months, according to people familiar with the matter. When the Biden administration asked Facebook to share information about spreading false information on the social network, the company refused to cooperate, people said.
On Friday, White House Digital Director Robert Flaherty said in a tweet, “I guess I’m left with one simple question: How many people have seen the misinformation of the covid vaccine on Facebook?”