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Biden Wants To Punish Facebook for the Government's Own Vaccine Failures

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20.07.2021

Coronavirus

Robby Soave | 7.20.2021 1:18 PM

The federal government is stepping up its war on Facebook: President Joe Biden has accused Mark Zuckerberg's social media platform of failing to purge anti-vaccine content, thus contributing to vaccine hesitancy and "killing people," said the president.

Now the White House is considering methods of tinkering with Section 230, the federal statute that immunizes internet platforms from legal liability, in order to punish Facebook for failing to do everything the government wants.

"We're reviewing that, and certainly they should be held accountable," said Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, in response to a question about Section 230 posed by Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski.

Biden has long supported getting rid of Section 230, though it would take an act of Congress to do so. Ironically, Section 230 is equally unpopular with many Republicans—including former President Donald Trump, who has called for its total repeal—because they consider it a sort of special perk enjoyed by tech companies that are purportedly hostile to conservative users. But the Biden administration's latest threats should disabuse Republicans of their anti-230 notions once and for all. The White House wants Facebook to proactively censor more content, and views Section 230 as an obstacle getting in the way of that goal. Repealing Section 230 is thus not a great solution to the alleged problem of tech companies banning too many provocative right-wing accounts; Democrats in the federal government want to repeal Section 230 so that tech companies have no choice but to ban more content.

Anti-Facebook Republicans are making a tactical error; the Biden White House, on the other hand, is just plain wrong about the degree to which social media is responsible for vaccine hesitancy. By focusing on the perceived harms of too much anti-vax content on Facebook, the administration is neglecting a dozen other strategies it could pursue to boost countrywide vaccination.

For one, it's far from clear that social media—or Facebook in particular—is predominantly responsible for vaccine hesitancy, a problem that predates the internet. Facebook users are actually more likely to be vaccinated than the average U.S. citizen, according to the company's data.

"The data shows that 85 percent of Facebook users in........

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