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Sunday shows preview: Feds slam social media over COVID-19 misinformation

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The federal government’s criticism of social media for the rapid spread of COVID-19 misinformation amid the Biden administration’s push for vaccinations is expected to dominate this week’s Sunday news circuit. 

On Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a health misinformation advisory calling false claims regarding COVID-19 “a serious threat to public health” as the White House aims to get more Americans vaccinated.

“It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts. Limiting the spread of health misinformation is a moral and civic imperative that will require a whole-of-society effort,” Murthy said in a statement.

The advisory, which calls for a range of actions from different organizations, asks technology platforms to strengthen efforts to monitor for misinformation, amplify the messages of those who are trusted subject matter experts and prioritize detecting misinformation “super-spreaders and repeat offenders” earlier on. 

“In particular, make meaningful long-term investments to address misinformation, including product changes. Redesign recommendation algorithms to avoid amplifying misinformation, build in “frictions”— such as suggestions and warnings—to reduce the sharing of misinformation, and make it easier for users to report misinformation,” the advisory notes.

The advisory also includes guidance aimed at specific actions that health organizations and professionals, media organizations, communities and others can take in combating misinformation.

The surgeon general elaborated on his advisory during a White House briefing on Thursday, stating, “Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users.” 

During the briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki specifically called on Facebook to do more.

“Facebook should provide, publicly and transparently, data on the reach of COVID vaccine misinformation — not just engagement, but the reach of the misinformation, and the audience that is reaching,” Psaki said.

Murthy is scheduled to appear on ABC’s “This Week,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Fox News Sunday.” 

President Biden’s on Friday slammed social media on Friday, stating that platforms that allow false claims to proliferate were “killing people.” 

In response to a question regarding what the president’s message was to social media companies on coronavirus misinformation, he said: “They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” Biden said.

A spokesperson for Facebook pushed back against criticism regarding its efforts to curb COVID-19 misinformation, saying in a statement “We 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. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine,” said Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever.

“The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period,” Lever added.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 56 percent of the total population has had at least one dose and 48 percent have had both doses. 

The White House is trying to ramp up efforts to vaccinate harder-to-reach Americans as pockets of the U.S. are seeing a surge in case as the delta variant spreads in unvaccinated communities. 

Springfield, Mo., in particular has been hit hard by a surge in coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management submitted a funding request for an “alternate care site” for COVID-19 patients to relieve the pressure on local hospitals. 

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure will appear on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday. 

Below is a comprehensive list of the Sunday shows lineup:

ABC’s “This Week” — U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Hilda Solis, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

NBC’s “Meet the Press” – To be announced

CBS’ “Face the Nation” —McClure; retired Adm. Michael Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Christopher Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation & Research

CNN’s “State of the Union” — Murthy; Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

“Fox News Sunday” — Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Murthy

FOX News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senate Judiciary Committee, Peter Schweizer, Author “Secret Empires”, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), ranking member, Senate Budget Committee, Mark Levin, Host of Life, Liberty and Levin and Author of “American Marxism”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bill Cassidy COVID-19 Facebook Jen Psaki Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Mark Levin misinformation Rob Portman Ted Cruz Vivek Murthy Vivek Murthy

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