Facebook, Twitter must step up fight against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, say state AGs

Twelve state attorneys general say the social networks could be doing more to combat misinformation.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
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Erin Carson
2 min read

State attorneys general want Facebook and Twitter to do more to curb misinformation about the vaccine. 


Twelve state attorneys general are calling on Facebook and Twitter to do more against misinformation relating to the COVID-19 vaccines. In letters sent Wednesday to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the attorneys general ask the platforms to fully enforce their rules against vaccine misinformation in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

"Misinformation disseminated via your platforms has increased vaccine hesitancy, which will slow economic recovery and, more importantly, ultimately cause even more unnecessary deaths," the letter said.

The letter lists specific concerns, like not removing the accounts of prominent opponents of the vaccine, and inconsistency on how misinformation labels and popups are applied on Facebook groups and pages.

In a statement, Facebook said, "Working with leading health organizations, we've updated our policies to remove millions of pieces of misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines from Facebook and Instagram – including 2 million since February alone -- and take stronger action against accounts that break our COVID-19 and vaccine rules."

Twitter likewise said it's been working to combat misinformation.

"Making certain that reliable, authoritative health information is easily accessible on Twitter has been a priority long before we were in the midst of a global pandemic," a Twitter spokesperson said via email. 

The letter comes ahead of Thursday's congressional hearing in which Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai will answer questions about misinformation.

In March, Facebook said it has more than 35,000 people tracking misinformation on the platform. It also said it's removed more than 12 million pieces of content with misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine, partly with help from its artificial intelligence systems. 

Likewise, Twitter said it's removed more than 22,400 tweets worldwide based on its policy on misleading information surrounding COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the vaccines are still rolling out around the world. In March, President Joe Biden said the US would reach its goal of administering 100 million shots weeks ahead of the original deadline of his first 100 days in office.

See also: What can you do when you're vaccinated? CDC releases new COVID-19 guidelines

Watch this: Stanford expert's bottom line on what a COVID vaccine means for you