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Attorney General Stein To Facebook, Twitter: Stop the Spread of Coronavirus Disinformation

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today called on Facebook and Twitter to take stronger measures to stop the spread of anti-vaxxer coronavirus disinformation on their social media platforms. In letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Attorney General Stein and 11 other attorneys general urge both leaders to immediately and fully enforce company guidelines against vaccine misinformation to prevent needless infection and death and to hasten our road to recovery.

“COVID-19 misinformation is putting people’s lives at risk,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “The coronavirus vaccines are remarkable scientific achievements that give us a chance to end the pandemic that’s ravaged our communities for the past year. Scientists and public health experts have definitively debunked the anti-vaccine myths that are spreading like viruses on social media. I’m urging Facebook and Twitter to stop the anti-vax lies on their platforms – it’s a matter of life and death.”

The letter cites specific examples where Facebook and Twitter have failed to enforce their existing guidelines:

  • Facebook and Twitter have failed to remove the accounts of prominent anti-vaxxers who have repeatedly violated the companies’ terms of service. It’s estimated that about 12 anti-vaxxers’ personal accounts and their associated organizations, groups, and websites are responsible for 65 percent of public anti-vaccine content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Facebook has failed to consistently apply misinformation labels and popups on Facebook pages and groups that discuss vaccines or COVID-19. At the same time, the company has mistakenly flagged pro-vaccine pages and content in ways that have undermined pro-vaccine public education efforts.
  • Facebook has allowed anti-vaxxers to skirt its policy of removing misinformation that health experts have debunked by failing to prevent them from using video and streaming tools like Facebook Live and sites like Bitchute, Rumble, and Brighteon to evade detection.

Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are set to testify Thursday at a joint hearing of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee and the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives regarding social media’s role in promoting extremism and misinformation.

 

North Carolinians can learn accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC.

 

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending this letter by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

 

A copy of the letter is available here.

 

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect North Carolinians during the pandemic:

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