U.S. Surgeon General Affirms Health Misinformation Is Deadly; Spreads Like Virus On Social Media

Joe Biden and his administration have been criticized in recent days for addressing the spread of health disinformation on social media. A plan to combat some of this disinformation has been demonized in right-wing media, and Biden made headlines by saying that failing to contain this disinformation is causing deaths.

[United States Department of Health and Human Services, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Asked about this in a Sunday morning CNN interview, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy affirmed that disinformation is deadly, and that the spread of it is making things worse. He gave social media companies credit for the efforts they have made, in which posts pertaining to COVID-19 and vaccination have appended links to good information sources, such as the CDC, but also says it isn’t enough.

Facebook has accused the Biden Administration of “looking for scapegoats” because the nation has failed to reach vaccination goals to achieve herd immunity and get the pandemic under some semblance of control. An official for the site complained to CNN that the Administration is praising the company in private but condemning in public.

Dr. Murthy says that in fact, he has both publicly and privately praised the efforts of social media companies, and also both publicly and privately called for more.

“What I’ve also said to them, publically and privately, is that it’s not enough. We are still seeing a proliferation of misinformation online, and we know that health misinformation harms people’s health. It costs them their lives.”

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