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U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Sept. 9 urged the chief executives of both Amazon and Facebook to address the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on their respective platforms, as part of a continuing legislative effort to curb anti-vaccine disinformation during a public health emergency.
In separate letters to Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook, Schiff asked both companies to transparently and thoroughly detail efforts they’ve undertaken to stop content that undermines science and promotes vaccine misinformation to the public.
“Vaccine hesitancy fueled by misinformation stands between us and truly ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schiff wrote. “And nowhere is that misinformation more apparent, potent and transmissible than on social media and e-commerce sites. As the administration of vaccines around the country continues, misinformation is on the rise on major online platforms. But despite some concrete and positive steps previously taken, these companies owe both the public and the Congress additional answers about the exponential and dangerous proliferation of misinformation, and what the platforms are doing to address the viral spread of conspiratorial falsehoods and myths, over good science.”
Currently, 53% of all Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. yet the Delta variant has surged among those who remain unvaccinated, bringing America’s COVID-19 rates to levels not seen since 2020’s winter surge, before vaccinations became widely available.
In 2019, Schiff sent a letter to Jeffrey Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, and Zuckerberg to express similar concerns about the propagation of general vaccine misinformation on their platforms. The responses from both Amazon and Facebook failed to fully answer or account for the issues Schiff raised, according to his office.
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