Culture

Editorial: Biden’s righteous frustration with Facebook boils over


Congratulations, Mark Zuckerberg.

It wasn’t enough that your company topped the 2020 list of America’s most hated companies. Now the president of the United States has all but declared you Public Health Enemy No. 1.

As much as anything, President Biden’s recent attack on Facebook reflects his growing frustration with the social media giant’s refusal to be a responsible conduit of news and social discourse. The comments should also serve as a warning to the tech industry that a day of reckoning is on the horizon unless it takes significant steps to clean up its act.

Biden on Friday accused Facebook of “killing people” by not confronting the ubiquitous flow of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform. Facebook pushed back Saturday in a blog post by VP of Integrity Guy Rosen, charging that the White House was unfairly using the company as a scapegoat for its own failure to meet Biden’s vaccination goals.

The president on Monday walked back his earlier remarks, saying that he thinks it is a group of about 12 people who spread misinformation on Facebook that are primarily responsible for COVID deaths among the unvaccinated. Yet his overall displeasure with Facebook and the tech industry, in general, should be obvious to anyone paying attention.

One day after Biden clarified his remarks, the White House announced that it would nominate longtime Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter as the top antitrust official at the Justice Department. Kanter, a favorite of progressives who favor prosecuting what they see as illegal monopolies, has bipartisan support.

The selection follows Biden’s choice of Lina Khan to lead the Federal Trade Commission. Khan is a longtime critic of the tech industry who has called for a redefinition of what constitutes a monopoly in the digital age. And in March the president chose Tim Wu to serve on the National Economic Council. Wu, a Columbia law professor who coined the term “net neutrality,” argues that companies such as Facebook have been allowed to grow too big and should be subject to stronger antitrust scrutiny.

Biden is right that the tech titan has a lot to answer for, especially for its ongoing failure to remove misinformation and disinformation from its platform.

Facebook brags that vaccine acceptance among its users in the United States has increased from 70% to nearly 85% since January. But it refuses to come clean about how many people view factually incorrect content on its platforms.

And it still allows the group of 12 people dubbed the “Disruptive Dozen” — including Dr. Joseph Mercola and Robert Kennedy Jr. —  to spread myths about vaccine safety to millions of followers.  The Disruptive Dozen routinely say that the vaccine is unsafe and ineffective, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

The continuing enabling of pandemic falsehoods, along with Facebook’s failure to stop the spread of election misinformation and disinformation in the 2016 and 2020 elections, makes clear that Zuckerberg cares more about protecting his bottom line than protecting the American people.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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