White House reviewing policies to curb health misinformation on social media 

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The White House is exploring regulatory actions that would hold social media companies liable for publishing false information that can cause people harm, such as misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines, CNBC reported July 20. 

The review comes after President Joe Biden called out social media platforms including Facebook for letting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation spread on their services, in turn resulting in the death of Americans. At a July 16 press conference, the president said: "I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that's — they're killing people." 

President Biden walked back some of his criticism of Facebook on July 19, clarifying that he meant to call out a dozen users, not the Facebook platform itself, for spreading misinformation about vaccines, according to CNBC

When asked whether companies like Facebook should be held liable for publishing false information that can cause people harm, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told MSNBC that the administration is reviewing policies such as amending the Communications Decency Act, or Section 230, according to the report. 

"We're reviewing that, and certainly they should be held accountable," she said. "And I think you've heard the president speak very aggressively about this. He understands this is an important piece of the ecosystem." 

Facebook refuted President Biden's comments, stating that the company "will not be distracted by accusations which aren't supported by the facts." 

"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," a Facebook spokesperson said. "More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period."

 

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