During a brief interview outside of the White House Friday, President Joe Biden responded to a question about vaccine misinformation on platforms like Facebook, saying, "They're killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they're killing people."
The exchange occurred just a day after the Surgeon General issued an advisory warning about the public health risks of vaccine misinformation online.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also took aim at social media companies during her press briefing on Thursday and again on Friday, citing a study that shows just 12 Facebook users are responsible for the vast majority of vaccine misinformation. "There's about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms," Psaki said Thursday.
On Friday, Psaki also argued that users who are banned from one platform should also be banned from others "for providing misinformation." While tech platforms have taken action against certain users, including former President Donald Trump, around the same time, the call from the White House to formalize those industrywide takedowns marked an escalation of the government's approach to content moderation online.
A Facebook spokesperson responded to the White House's statements, saying that "the facts show that Facebook is saving lives. Period."
Update: This post was updated to include Facebook's response.