Democrats blast Facebook over anti-vaccine pages

Democrats blast Facebook over anti-vaccine pages
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Reps. Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezEviction ruling puts new pressure on Congress 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Democrats face daunting hurdles despite promising start MORE (D-Calif.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanBiden seeks to build Democratic support among unions Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — A warning shot on Biden's .5T plan Overnight Defense & National Security — America's longest war ends MORE (D-Wis.) blasted Facebook over anti-vaccine pages on its platform.

The Democrats wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Facebook 'too late' curbing climate falsities Facebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens How social media fuels U.S. political polarization — what to do about it MORE demanding to know why anti-vaccination pages are allowed to spread misinformation on the platform, and how the company plans to remove them.

The letter comes after anti-vaccine demonstrators staged a protest at Dodgers Stadium on Saturday, forcing the Los Angeles Fire Department to close the gates for roughly an hour.

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The Washington Post reported that a Facebook page with nearly 3,000 followers organized the protest.

“California is currently being ravaged by COVID-19. Among those affected, communities of color, immigrant communities, frontline low-wage workers and other vulnerable communities bear the brunt of the pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote.

“It is crucial to the fight against COVID-19, and to ensuring society can move beyond this pandemic, that such public health efforts are not interrupted. Any disruption to similar mass vaccinations sites can easily lead to unnecessary infections and deaths,” they wrote.

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Gomez and Pocan asked for information on how the Facebook group was able to organize, and had websites that linked to multiple sources of coronavirus misinformation, including the baseless “Plandemic” narrative.

They also asked what actions the platform is taking to ensure similar pages and efforts are removed from the site.

“Lives are literally hanging in the balance of your corporate actions and decisions, you must do more,” the lawmakers wrote. “Congress is closely watching your response. We will not hesitate to act in this matter should it be required.”

Facebook didn't immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

Facebook said in December that it would remove misinformation about coronavirus vaccines as vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna were nearing approval.

In October, the platform also banned advertisements that discouraged people from getting vaccines, including those that paint them as useless, harmful or unsafe.