Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, founding director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at Boston University, expressed concern about the spread of misinformation about Covid vaccines on social media.
“I think social media plays a huge role in amplifying misinformation that is leading people not to take the vaccine, which is killing them,” Bhadelia told CNBC on Friday. “It’s the honest truth. Covid is a vaccine-preventable disease at the moment.”
President Joe Biden said Friday that platforms like Facebook are killing people by allowing misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines through their services. He went back those comments on Monday, mainly accusing the platform’s users of sharing misinformation.
Bhadelia cited results from the Kaiser Family Fund poll, which found that 54% of Americans either believe or cannot tell whether a common Covid vaccine myth is fact or fiction.
The US is struggling with a drop in vaccination rates and an increase in infections. All 50 states have reported an increase in Covid cases over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has an average of more than 26,000 new cases a day, and that’s the highest number in two months, according to Johns Hopkins.
Bhadelia told CNBC The News with Shepard Smith that she believes social media companies can do a lot more to stop the spread of disinformation.
“You have to invest a lot more resources and improve your balance to clear that information faster, invest more resources in changing your matrix, because right now what is on top of your page is not right, but what it is is popular, “said Bhadelia, a medical worker for NBC News.
She also suggested that social media companies should partner with public health officials more to get the right information out to the people.
Facebook spoke out against the White House claims.
“We will not be distracted by allegations that are not supported by the facts,” said a spokesman. “The fact is, more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook helps save lives. Point.”
Correction: This article has been updated to include Dr. Nahid Bhadelia’s view that “social media plays a huge role in amplifying misinformation” about Covid vaccines. An earlier version misinterpreted your quote.