Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dodged a question about COVID-19 misinformation on the platform, as the company faces the fury of the Biden administration.
In an interview clip shared on Wednesday, CBS This Morning host Gayle King repeatedly insisted on Zuckerberg how many people have viewed misinformation about the pandemic on Facebook.
“One of the things the White House has repeatedly requested and still hasn’t got a number is how many people have seen and shared, do you have that number? Asked the king.
“Well, if we see damaging disinformation on the platform, we remove it. It is against our policy. So the number of 18 million that I shared is the number of pieces of content that we saw on the platform that we removed, ”Zuckerberg replied.
CBS This Morning host Gayle King has repeatedly asked Zuckerberg how many people have viewed misinformation about the pandemic on Facebook, but he did not respond directly
He continued, “Now do we catch it all? Of course, there are mistakes we make or areas where we need to improve, but this is the best number we have in terms of what we have seen and what our systems have been able to detect.
King urged him further, “They’re two separate issues.” You deleted 18 million wrong information, but how many people have seen the wrong information? “
“The White House said at one point that Facebook was killing people. It was very bold, very direct and provocative, and I think at one point the president backed down, ”she added.
“I understand what you’re saying,” Zuckerberg replied. “The number I have in mind and can share is the number of pieces of disinformation against which we have taken action. “
Zuckerberg also insisted that millions of people have used Facebook’s vaccine search engine to locate appointments for injections, and that hundreds of millions of people have visited the site’s coronavirus hub to get authoritative wrong information.
The full interview is scheduled to air Thursday morning on CBS. It comes as tensions between Facebook and the White House continue to simmer, with the Biden administration insisting the company do more to tackle disinformation.
Zuckerberg said Facebook has removed 18 million pieces of false pandemic information, but White House demands tougher crackdown and more cooperation
In July, President Joe Biden publicly accused Facebook of “killing people” with disinformation, though he later tempered the statement.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Republicans have grown increasingly enraged at the social media giant because of what they see as too much censorship.
Facebook has blocked former President Trump from the platform until 2023 and has limited sharing of articles that could be unfavorable to President Biden.
Sources close to the Biden administration told the New York Times that the White House believes Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, was “particularly problematic,” as executives highlight steps taken to share factual information but avoid disclosure. responsibility for the lies disseminated on the platform. .
“We’ve made it clear to them when they haven’t met our standards or theirs and have actively increased content on their platforms that misleads the American people,” said Mike Gwin, White House spokesman.
Meanwhile, Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, said the White House did not give the company enough credit for promoting the vaccine, and said Facebook had been working with the White House for “de many months ”to get people vaccinated.
“We are removing Covid-related content that breaks our rules and continue to link to authoritative health information on all Covid-related posts,” Stone said.
A lot of Facebook’s policies clearly deal with misinformation – like banning claims that jabs contain “mark of the beast” or turn you into a monkey.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Republicans have grown increasingly enraged at the social media giant because of what they see as too much censorship
But the site also says it bans “claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously injure people (such as causing blood clots).
This is despite the fact that medical regulators in Europe and elsewhere have seen fit to put warnings on AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs saying they can cause blood clots – albeit in extremely rare cases. .
Facebook also faced controversy when it initially banned suggestions that the virus had emerged from a Chinese lab – then was forced to reverse that policy in March, as it became increasingly clear that the The origin of the lab was a viable theory.
The Biden team has clashed with social media companies repeatedly over disinformation for years, and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has raised the issue in conversations with the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, according to an official. Biden himself has not spoken with the executive since taking office.
Earlier this month, U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy said vaccine misinformation poses a deadly threat to public health.
“Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to the health of our nation,” Murthy said in a speech Thursday at the White House. “We need to fight disinformation as a nation. Lives depend on it.
Murthy said tech companies and social media platforms need to make significant changes to their products and software to reduce the spread of false information while increasing access to authoritative factual sources.
Too often, he said, platforms are built in such a way as to encourage the spread of disinformation.
“We are asking them to step up,” Murthy said. “We cannot wait any longer for them to take aggressive action. “
Facebook responded to Biden’s attack on Friday, with spokesperson Kevin McAlister saying, “The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.’
The company also published a blog post saying that its internal research showed it was not responsible for Biden’s missed vaccination target.
“Data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the United States have been or wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” the company said. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed. ”