White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Psaki says White House offered 'early stage call' to Nicki Minaj Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE called a question from a Fox News reporter “loaded and inaccurate” on Friday when asked about the topic of vaccine misinformation on social media.
Fox's Peter Doocy pressed Psaki on her comments the previous day that Facebook is not doing enough to stop misinformation on the platform. Psaki had noted the White House was taking an active role in "flagging problematic posts for Facebook" in an attempt to combat misinformation.
Doocy asked Psaki on Friday how long the Biden administration has "been spying on peoples’ Facebook profiles looking for vaccine misinformation."
“Well, that was quite a loaded and inaccurate question, which I would refute," Psaki responded.
She also told the reporter to "let me finish" when interrupted.
"We’re in regular touch with a range of media outlets ... as we are in regular touch with social media platforms. This is publicly open information, people sharing information online. Just as you are all reporting information on your news stations,” she added.
Psaki had said that 12 people were responsible for roughly 65 percent of all the anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. Doocy asked on Friday if those 12 people know that someone in the U.S. surgeon general’s office is going through their profile.
“I’m happy to get you the citation of where that comes from. There’s no secret list, I will tell you that these are people who were sharing information on public platforms on Facebook. Information that is traveling is inaccurate. Our biggest concern here — and I frankly think it should be your biggest concern — is the number of people who are dying around the country because they’re getting misinformation that is leading them to not take a vaccine,” Psaki said.
Doocy equated the administration identifying 12 people spreading the majority of misinformation to “Big Brother watching you.”
“They’re more concerned about that than people dying across the country because of a pandemic where misinformation is traveling on social media platforms? That feels unlikely me. If you have the data to back that up, I’m happy to discuss it,” Psaki added.
The Fox reporter also asked if a 2020 video from Anthony FauciAnthony FauciIntercept reporters discuss gain-of-function research The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration United Airlines CEO says employees exempt from vaccine 'won't be in front of customers' MORE, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, should be removed from social media because he said at the time that there is no reason for people to wear masks. Psaki disputed the question, saying that Fauci has been clear that science and information evolves.
“I have never seen any data to suggest that the vaccines cause infertility. That is information that is irresponsibly traveling,” she said, noting the kind of misinformation on social media now.
She also said that the administration doesn’t take anything down from Facebook or other private-sector companies.
“Our point is that there is information about people not taking the vaccine and people are dying as a result and we have a responsibility as a public health matter to raise that issue and the responsibility we all have, the government, media, platforms, public messengers, to give accurate information,” she said.
On the administration’s message to the people sharing misinformation, Psaki emphasized that the vaccines are safe and effective.
“Our message to anyone who is sharing misinformation, the steps you’re taking are irresponsible, they could lead to people getting very sick and people ultimately losing their lives,” she added.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyFacebook announces crackdown on 'coordinated social harm' campaigns Biden to speak at UN general assembly in person The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink MORE also raised concerns on Thursday about misinformation, saying that American lives are at risk as misinformation grows.