Congressional Democrats on Wednesday said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not doing enough to remove coronavirus vaccine misinformation on the platform, saying it lowered vaccination rates.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Anna Eshoo of California, who are both leaders on the House Energy Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over online content moderation, sent letters to Zuckerberg earlier this week requesting more and better data on the degree of misinformation on his platform related to coronavirus vaccines.
"Although Facebook eagerly touts that more than two billion of its users have viewed authoritative information about the coronavirus and vaccines, you refuse to share the number of users who have viewed vaccine misinformation," Menendez said in his letter.
“It is ironic that a company that encourages its users to share the innermost details about their lives, refuses to share the most information about its practices,” Menendez added.
Menendez demanded that Facebook “make public all data pertaining to vaccine misinformation” by Aug. 10, while Schakowsky and Eshoo asked the tech giant for further details by Aug. 26 regarding the 18 million pieces of coronavirus misinformation Facebook has claimed to have removed, who viewed this content, and how much advertising revenue was generated by user engagement on those posts before they were taken down.
Facebook maintains it is taking the issue of vaccine misinformation seriously, claiming to have pushed out accurate information to more than 2 billion people and rejecting contentions by President Joe Biden that the platform was "killing people" due to the spread of misinformation on its website.
A recent Axios-Ipsos poll shows those who believe common online myths about the vaccine are far less likely to get it. Additionally, a study from earlier this year found Republicans, Fox News viewers, and those who relied on social media for virus information were less likely to get vaccinated.
Many conservatives also want to reduce coronavirus misinformation online that is resulting in fewer people getting vaccinated, but they are wary of social media giants and the government becoming the arbiters of truth.
Menendez said Facebook has a long history of not responding to his questions or giving roundabout answers.
“Over the course of several years I have sent numerous letters to Facebook requesting information on a variety of topics including firearms sales on Facebook marketplace, misleading PrEP ads targeting the LGBTQ+ community and hate speech, receiving in most cases tangential responses wholly lacking of substance,” said Menendez.
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Original Author: Nihal Krishan
Original Location: Democrats press Zuckerberg on Facebook COVID-19 vaccine misinformation