In a U-turn on his own condemnation of misinformation on social media about COVID-19, President Biden said on Monday, “Facebook doesn’t kill people” by making false claims.
Biden softened his stance after company executives rejected his statement Friday that Facebook was responsible for deaths caused by anti-vaccine sentiment.
“They kill people,” Biden told reporters on Friday afternoon when asked about his message for the company. “The only pandemic we have is that of the unvaccinated. And they kill people. “
But when asked about those comments on Monday, he instead told reporters that he had just read an article claiming that most of the COVID-19 misinformation came from 12 people – apparently relating to a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate in which Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as the most famous member of the “Disinformation Dozen”.
“I mean exactly what I said,” Biden said Monday before contradicting his previous remark about blaming Facebook for the deaths.
“I had just read that on Facebook… It was pointed out to Facebook that of all misinformation, 60 percent of the misinformation came from 12 people. So it said in the article. So I was asked this question, what I think is going to happen, ”said Biden.
“Facebook doesn’t kill people. These 12 people out there giving misinformation, anyone who listens to this gets hurt, it kills people. It is bad information. “
Biden added, “My hope is that instead of taking it personally – that Facebook is somehow killing people – that they would do something about the misinformation, the informant’s outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant. “
Biden also touted the stock market’s successful year – despite the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 900 points Monday morning for fear that vaccines might fail to fend off the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 that is racing through the UK could and largely unvaccinated areas of Missouri and Arkansas.
“The stock market is higher than it has been in all of history … even this month,” Biden said, adding, “I don’t see the stock market as a means of judging the economy like my predecessor did. But he’s been talking to you every day for the past five months about how high the stock market is, higher than it has ever been in history. “
Biden’s duel with Facebook came when the White House pushed social media companies to do more to censor anti-vaccine posts. More than 68 percent of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to CDC data, which has dramatically reduced infections in most of the country. However, some regions have significantly lower vaccination rates.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week the Biden administration had “reported problematic posts for Facebook that are spreading disinformation.” But she caused confusion when she replied in the affirmative when urged by a reporter to confirm that the White House was merely identifying “general areas of misinformation” for censorship, rather than “specific posts.”