Story at a glance

  • U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday continued the Biden administration’s attack on social media companies.
  • “The reality is that misinformation is still spreading like wildfire in our country, aided and abetted by technology platforms.”
  • “I’m worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular.”

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday continued the Biden administration’s attack on social media companies for allegedly not doing enough to curb the spread of COVID-19 misinformation on their platforms. 

“The reality is that misinformation is still spreading like wildfire in our country, aided and abetted by technology platforms,” Murthy said on Fox News Sunday.

“I’m worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. It’s so important people have the information they need about the vaccine. … It is our fastest, most effective way out of this pandemic,” Murthy said.

New coronavirus cases soared last week, increasing by nearly 70 percent. Meanwhile, new hospitalizations rose by 26 percent, leading health officials to further caution about the dangers that the delta variant presents to unvaccinated populations. Four states accounted for more than 40 percent of new reported cases. 

"There is a message that is crystal clear: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday. "We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk."

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CDC data shows that approximately 58 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, while 48.6 percent have been fully vaccinated. 

Murthy’s comments Sunday follow President Biden’s recent comments that misinformation on social media is “killing people,” which drew a response from one company on Saturday. Facebook acknowledged in a blog post the “important role" social media plays in society, and that the answer to curbing the spread of misinformation requires a whole-scale effort. 

“And facts — not allegations — should help inform that effort,” the company wrote. “The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased. These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days.” 

Our country is in a historic fight against the coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

Yet Murthy doubled down on the administration’s stance on Sunday, saying they are still “seeing a proliferation of misinformation online.”

“And we know that health misinformation harms people’s health. It costs them their lives. Health misinformation takes away our freedom and our power to make decisions for us and for our families," Murthy said on CNN’s State of the Union. The platforms have to recognize they have played a major role in the increase in speed and scale with which misinformation is spreading.”

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Published on Jul 19, 2021