WHITE HOUSE: We’re Flagging Problematic Posts for Facebook that Spread Disinformation

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The White House today announced they are cracking down on what they consider to be “disinformation” about the China Virus vaccine. It is a revelation that should disturb any American who believes in freedom of the press and free speech.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said the White House is working closely with social media platforms to target information the administration finds objectionable.

“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” Psaki admitted to the nation.

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“We’re saying we expect more from our technology companies. We’re asking them to operate with greater transparency and accountability. We’re asking them to monitor misinformation more closely. We’re asking them to consistently take action against misinformation super-spreaders on their platforms,” the surgeon general said.

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He said he is also asking news organizations to proactively address the public’s questions without inadvertently giving a platform to health misinformation that can harm their audiences.

“Every week, I talk to doctors and nurses across our country who are burning out as they care for more and more patients with COVID-19 who never got vaccinated — all too often because they were misled by misinformation,” Murthy said. “We must confront misinformation as a nation. Every one of us has the power and the responsibility to make a difference in this fight. Lives are depending on it.”

This is the behavior of an authoritarian government and we must strongly object to this sort of government censorship.

Q  Thanks, Jen. Can you talk a little bit more about this request for tech companies to be more aggressive in policing misinformation? Has the administration been in touch with any of these companies and are there any actions that the federal government can take to ensure their cooperation, because we’ve seen, from the start, there’s not a lot of action on some of these platforms.
 
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, first, we are in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.
 
In terms of actions, Alex, that we have taken — or we’re working to take, I should say — from the federal government: We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect — to connect medical experts with popular — with popular — who are popular with their audiences with — with accurate information and boost trusted content. So we’re helping get trusted content out there.
 
We also created the COVID-19 — the COVID Community Corps to get factual information into the hands of local messengers, and we’re also investing, as you all have seen in the President’s, the Vice President’s, and Dr. Fauci’s time in meeting with influencers who also have large reaches to a lot of these target audiences who can spread and share accurate information.
 
You saw an example of that yesterday. I believe that video will be out Fri- — tomorrow. I think that was your question, Steve, yesterday; I did a full follow-up there.
 
There are also proposed changes that we have made to social media platforms, including Facebook, and those specifically are four key steps.
 
One, that they measure and publicly share the impact of misinformation on their platform. Facebook should provide, publicly and transparently, data on the reach of COVID-19 — COVID vaccine misinformation. Not just engagement, but the reach of the misinformation and the audience that it’s reaching.
 
That will help us ensure we’re getting accurate information to people. This should be provided not just to researchers, but to the public so that the public knows and understands what is accurate and inaccurate.
 
Second, that we have recommended — proposed that they create a robust enforcement strategy that bridges their properties and provides transparency about the rules. So, about — I think this was a question asked before — there’s about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including Facebook — ones that Facebook owns.
 
Third, it’s important to take faster action against harmful posts. As you all know, information travels quite quickly on social media platforms; sometimes it’s not accurate. And Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts — posts that will be within their policies for removal often remain up for days. That’s too long. The information spreads too quickly.
 
Finally, we have proposed they promote quality information sources in their feed algorithm. Facebook has repeatedly shown that they have the levers to promote quality information. We’ve seen them effectively do this in their algorithm over low-quality information and they’ve chosen not to use it in this case. And that’s certainly an area that would have an impact.
 
So, these are certainly the proposals. We engage with them regularly and they certainly understand what our asks are.