Biden walks back on criticism of Facebook

U.S. President Joe Biden walked back recent comments on Facebook on Monday. He'd blamed the company last week for allowing the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

Now he's told reporters he meant to accuse a dozen users who spread the most amount of misinformation on the social media platform, not the company itself.

"Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I'm saying that Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation - the outrageous misinformation - about the vaccine."

Researchers and lawmakers have long accused Facebook of failing to police harmful content on its platforms.

When asked on Friday about COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook and other social media platforms, Biden responded simply "They're killing people" and that "the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated."

Facebook responded sharply last week, saying it had provided reliable information on vaccines and introduced new rules targeting misinformation.

In a corporate blog post, Facebook wrote that "President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed."

The news comes as new coronavirus infections rise rapidly across the U.S., driven by the highly-contagious Delta variant.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nationwide, COVID-19 cases surged 70% in the last week.

Officials say vast majority of new cases and deaths are among those not yet vaccinated.

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