U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today called out Mark Zuckerberg for vaccine misinformation being spread on the popular social media site, Facebook early Wednesday.
Menendez says that Facebook refuses to share the specific number of users who have viewed some sort of misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccine, even though the site has said that nearly two billion people have viewed accurate information on the vaccine and COVID-19.
“Unlike you, Members of Congress are accountable to the American people and for that reason, I will keep pushing your company to hold itself to a higher standard,” he said. “If you truly believe in transparency, share with us the data available to you that will help us understand the magnitude of vaccine misinformation and inform our decision making process as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Facebook has been recommending and promoting health groups to users that spread misinformation to people as well as allow anti-vaccination propaganda on the website, Menendez said. Some of these posts have over a million views and the groups, combined, have around 275,000 members.
Menendez cited a survey by the Washington Post finding people who go to Facebook as their primary news source are less likely to get the vaccination than people who rely on more traditional, right leaning news organizations like Fox News.
The problem runs deeper than the lack of information on misinformation on the vaccines. According to Menendez’s letter to Zuckerberg, Facebook has been refusing to “provide straightforward answers to Congressional inquiries.”
“Over the course of several years I have sent numerous letters to Facebook requesting information on a variety of topics including firearms sales on Facebook marketplace, misleading PrEP ads targeting the LGBTQ+ community and hate speech, receiving in most cases tangential responses wholly lacking of substance,” said Menendez.
According to Menendez, Facebook has been asked multiple times to share information that could public health officials and from fully understand the severity of misinformation being spread on social media about the pandemic.
Menendez gave Zuckerberg an August 10 deadline to respond.