White House pressures tech companies for the ’12 of disinformation’

(CNN Business) — The White House on Thursday pressed Silicon Valley companies to curb vaccine-related misinformation. He specifically singled out a dozen people that one group called “the 12 of misinformation,” arguing that they were responsible for a large amount of false information about COVID-19.

“There are about 12 people who are producing 65% disinformation against vaccines on social media platforms,” ​​White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

That statistic comes from the nonprofit Center to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), which identified a dozen people in a report published in March who it said were super-spreaders of anti-digital disinformation. vaccines.

At that time, the CCDH had asked Facebook and Twitter to close all the pages managed by those people.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent figure in the anti-vaccine movement, is among those the CCHR said should be banned from social media.

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Kennedy’s Facebook-owned Instagram page was shut down earlier this year for sharing misinformation about COVID-19, Facebook said. However, Kennedy is still present on Facebook and has more than 300,000 followers on the platform.

Explaining why Kennedy was kicked out of one of his platforms but not the other, a Facebook spokesperson told CNN on Thursday: “We don’t automatically disable accounts in our apps, because accounts can post about different things in our different apps. services”.

“We will not be distracted by accusations that are not supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have seen reliable information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than anywhere else on the Internet.” Facebook told CNN.

The Facebook spokesperson insisted that the company is helping, not hurting. “More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our Vaccine Search Tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

When the CCHR report was released in March, Kennedy told NPR that he had become more cautious on Facebook, which NPR also said was accused of censorship. “I have to post unicorns and pictures of kittens there,” he said.

The CCDH said on Friday that 35 social media accounts linked to the people it identified have been closed, losing 5.8 million followers, but 62 accounts with a total of 8.4 million followers remain active.

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CNN reported Thursday that meetings between the Biden administration and Facebook have become “tense,” according to a person familiar with the conversations.

The person specifically pointed to Kennedy’s Facebook account that remains active as an example of what some White House officials see as Facebook’s inaction regarding disinformation about Covid-19.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNN on Friday that the company had shut down some pages and groups belonging to the dozen people identified by the CCDH, but did not say which pages.

A Twitter spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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