Attorneys general for 12 U.S. states on Wednesday accused Facebook and Twitter of doing too little to prevent people from using their platforms to spread false information that coronavirus vaccines are not safe.
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, attorneys general said anti-vaxers who lack medical expertise and who are often motivated by financial gain used platforms to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and exaggerate vaccination risks.
They called on both companies to implement their own community guidelines by removing or tagging vaccine misinformation.
The letter states that antivaxers control 65 percent of public vaccine content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and have more than 59 million followers on those platforms and Google’s YouTube.
It was also said that some misinformation targets blacks and other color communities in which the vaccination rate is lagging behind.
“Because antivaxers rely on your platforms, you are uniquely positioned to prevent the spread of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans in our states and will extend our path to recovery,” the letter said. .
Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever said the company had removed millions of parts of COVID-19 and misinformation about vaccines and was fighting “vaccine fluctuations” by regularly directing users to reliable information from health authorities.
Twitter said it has removed more than 22,400 tweets regarding its policy towards COVID-19 posts and gives priority to removing content that could harm the “real world”.
The letter was signed Wednesday by attorneys general in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Zuckerman, Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, the executive director of Google’s home alphabet, are due to testify before two House subcommittees on Thursday to fight online disinformation.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected more than 124 million people worldwide and caused more than 2.7 million deaths.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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