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'We're not in a war': White House tamps down tensions with Facebook over virus misinformation

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President Joe Biden and his administration are trying to soften their expressions of frustration with social media platforms over the spread of coronavirus misinformation online.

Biden and his aides are not considering regulatory or legal action to curb misinformation, particularly about COVID-19 shots as vaccination rates plateau, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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"That's up to Congress to determine how they want to proceed moving forward, but let me just note that we're not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We're in a battle with the virus," she told reporters on Monday.

But the administration was not taking "any options off the table," Psaki said. She added that misinformation was being circulated by some media outlets and public officials.

Earlier Monday, Biden clarified his comment from over the weekend that Facebook was "killing people" because "the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated."

“Facebook isn’t killing people," he told reporters. "These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally ... that they would do something."

The White House has repeated that 12 people are responsible for roughly 65% of anti-vaccine digital misinformation. All of them have active Facebook accounts even though some have been banned from other platforms owned by the social media giant, Psaki said last week.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has been spearheading an administration campaign to encourage technology companies to police misinformation more aggressively. The strategy includes asking them to provide data regarding the reach of problematic posts.

Facebook has been aggressively responding to the White House's messaging. A spokesperson claimed over the weekend the administration is "looking for scapegoats" after missing its vaccine goal.

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"The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine," a Facebook spokesperson said. "The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period."

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Tags: News, Biden, Biden Administration, White House, Joe Biden, Coronavirus, Facebook

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: 'We're not in a war': White House tamps down tensions with Facebook over virus misinformation

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