Republican lawmaker tells Zuckerberg Facebook should allow anti-vaccine content

Republican lawmaker tells Zuckerberg Facebook should allow anti-vaccine content
© Keren Carrion

Rep. Bill PoseyWilliam (Bill) Joseph PoseyScientists join Democrats in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Trump official declines to detail plans if ObamaCare struck down | DEA unveils rule for opioid manufacturers | Republican tells Zuckerberg to allow anti-vax content Poll: Women more likely to say social media has negative effect on society MORE (R-Fla.) on Wednesday pressed Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Civil rights groups demand changes to Facebook's political speech policy Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day MORE over the social media platform's efforts to reduce the spread of anti-vaccine material.

Posey used his five minutes during Zuckerberg's appearance before the House Financial Services Committee to ask the CEO why Facebook cracks down on anti-vaccine content if believes in freedom of expression. 

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Zuckerberg pushed back, saying that the company cares about freedom of speech but does want to stop the spread of misinformation. 

"We do care deeply about giving people a voice and freedom of expression," Zuckerberg said. "At the same time, we also hear consistently from our community that people want us to stop the spread of misinformation. What we do is we try to focus on misinformation that has the potential to lead to physical harm or imminent harm, and that can include especially misleading health advice."

This year, lawmakers and public health advocates have been pushing Facebook, as well as other top social media companies, to take stronger action against anti-vaccine content, arguing that the proliferation of medical misinformation has bolstered the "anti-vaxx" movement of people who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children.

Health experts have attributed recent measles outbreaks in the U.S. to an increasing number of people not getting vaccinations, warning that the movement largely uses social media to promote their views.

Posey also raised debunked concerns about the "risks of vaccinations," and Zuckerberg replied that Facebook allows people to participate in groups and conversations about such topics but does not direct users to those discussions. 

Posey has also discussed vaccines in the past, asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015 to look into whether vaccines led to a higher rate of autism, a theory that has thoroughly been debunked by the scientific community.

Zuckerberg was appearing before the committee to testify about the proposed Libra cryptocurrency and what regulations it should face.