White House in Talks With Facebook, Twitter To Fight Vaccine Hesitancy

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The White House is looking to cooperate with major social media companies to fight “misinformation” that leads to hesitancy toward the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Reuters, a senior Biden administration official said that public fear of the shot has become a major hurdle for the administration, which has prioritized aggressive measures to fight the virus.

“Disinformation that causes vaccine hesitancy is going to be a huge obstacle to getting everyone vaccinated and there are no larger players in that than the social media platforms,” said the source, whom Reuters reported has direct knowledge of the White House’s plans.

“We are talking to them,” the source added, “so they understand the importance of misinformation and disinformation and how they can get rid of it quickly.”

Citing a large anti-vaccine protest at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles earlier this month, the source stated that the Biden admin is especially trying to make sure such material “does not start trending on such platforms and become a broader movement.”

The protest was organized on Facebook and briefly blocked public access to the stadium, which is serving as one of the nation’s largest vaccination sites, seeing more than 8,000 doses administered each day.

The source told Reuters that the companies “were receptive” in engaging with the White House, but that “it is too soon to say whether or not it translates into lessening the spread of misinformation.”

The source indicated that more details as to exactly how the White House is engaging with the social media companies on this issue will be made public in the “next ten days or so.”

A Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters that the company has reached out to the White House to offer “any assistance we can provide” and has even developed a new policy to remove COVID and vaccine “misinformation” along with pages, groups, and accounts that repeatedly spread it.

A spokesman for Twitter said the company is “in regular communication with the White House on a number of critical issues including COVID-19 misinformation.”

The move to fight information promoting vaccine hesitancy comes as large numbers of individuals—including healthcare workers and first responders—have refused to receive the vaccine for COVID-19.

Among healthcare workers, Black Americans surveyed were among the least receptive toward the vaccine, with many citing past human rights violations by the US government in the form of medical experimentation.

“I’ve heard Tuskegee more times than I can count in the past month,” said Dr. Nikhila Juvvadi, chief clinical officer at Loretto Hospital in Chicago, “and, you know, it’s a valid, valid concern.”

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