Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Facebook and the Biden administration engaged in an increasingly rancorous back and forth over the weekend after the administration denounced the social media giant for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.

On Sunday, the surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, reiterated warnings that false stories about the vaccines had become a dangerous health hazard.

“These platforms have to recognize they’ve played a major role in the increase in speed and scale with which misinformation is spreading,” Murthy said Sunday on CNN.

Story continues below advertisement

In a blog post Saturday, Facebook called for the administration to stop “finger-pointing” and laid out what it had done to encourage users to get vaccinated. The social network also detailed how it had clamped down on lies about the vaccines, which officials have said led people to refuse to be vaccinated.

“The Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said in the post. “The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the U.S. has increased.”

Rosen added that the company’s data showed that 85% of its U.S. users had been or wanted to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. While President Joe Biden had set a goal of getting 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4, which the White House fell short of, “Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed,” Rosen said.

Facebook’s response followed a forceful condemnation of the company by Biden. When asked Friday about the role of social media in influencing vaccinations, Biden declared in unusually strong language that the platforms were “killing people.”

Other White House officials have also been vocal about how social media has amplified vaccine lies. On Thursday, Murthy accused social media companies of not having done enough to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation. On Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, also called out misinformation “that is leading to people not taking the vaccine.”

The White House declined to comment on Facebook’s blog post Saturday.

In recent months, Facebook has taken steps against anti-vaccination ads and misstatements about the vaccines. But online misinformation about the vaccines has not been eradicated.

Story continues below advertisement

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies