Social Media

Congress Grilling Tech Companies on COVID-19 Misinformation Is a Bit Rich

What about the federal government's own health experts?

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There were a lot of ridiculous lines of questioning during Thursday's congressional hearing on social media misinformation, but one that jumped out as particularly hypocritical came from Rep. Mike Doyle (D–Pa.).

After grilling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about their failure to eliminate misinformation on social media in general, Doyle turned to the subject of COVID-19. He asked each of the CEOs whether they believed the approved vaccines work. Each answered yes, of course.

"Then why have your companies allowed accounts that repeatedly offend your vaccine disinformation policies to remain up? " thundered Doyle, as if he has caught them in some kind of trap. "Why in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed over half a million Americans you haven't taken these accounts down that are responsible for vaccine disinformation?"

Zuckerberg, Pichai, and Dorsey responded that they do take down COVID-19 misinformation, though there are grey areas where something may not be provably true but is a matter of personal opinion, and the platforms are ill-suited to police all of this. This was a fine answer, but if they were feeling more combative, they could have turned the question on the congressmen: Why, in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than half a million Americans—and is still killing more than 1,000 people every day—is the federal government contributing to vaccine hesitancy and unavailability?

Officials at the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have yet to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine—30 million doses of it are just sitting in a warehouse in Ohio—even though data from the company's trials have showed that the vaccine is very effective at preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Not a single vaccinated person in the trial was even hospitalized. The vaccine should be distributed immediately, or at the very least sent abroad in order to confront the out-of-control pandemic in places like Brazil and Ukraine.

The government hasn't just failed to release the vaccine to the public; it has undermined confidence in it. Officials representing the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—including White House pandemic expert Anthony Fauci and NIH chief Francis Collins—have publicly feuded with AstraZeneca over a statistically insignificant discrepancy in the vaccine's reported efficacy.

Moreover, public health officials have repeatedly undersold the vaccines by insisting that Americans continue masking and social distancing even after they receive their shots. For younger people whose well-being is not particularly threatened by the disease, a major incentive for getting vaccinated is the opportunity to resume normal life. But officials still recommend very small gatherings, masks (even outdoors), and heavy restrictions on schools that reopen.

Government health experts have also changed their minds repeatedly about various mitigation strategies over the course of the pandemic. A year ago, Fauci recommended that people not bother purchasing masks unless they were in a health care setting. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has changed its mind about whether three feet or six feet is enough space for social distancing. Some of these mistakes are understandable: This was a never-before-seen disease. But it's absolutely the case that the federal government has repeatedly misinformed the American public about a variety of topics related to COVID-19, including the unlikelihood of post-vaccine transmission.

It thus seems misguided for Congress—a body with very little authority to dictate private social media companies' terms of service but considerable power to hold public health agencies to account—to fixate on tech companies' role in spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Thousands of people are still dying every day because the U.S. government isn't letting its citizens be vaccinated fast enough, and lawmakers seem more interested in finding a way to blame this on Facebook.

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  1. >>failure to eliminate misinformation on social media in general

    the opposite should be. all information should be made available mis- or otherwise.

    1. Yeah, but then you’ve got to deal with the government and it’s armed goons threatening to ruin your business and throw you in prison.

      1. those guys are even worse.

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      2. Luckily SV has that first part of the goons down. They’ve ruined many a business with collusion lately.

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  2. “What about the federal government’s own health experts?”

    You mean the fat gross tranny who wants you prosecuted for calling him a tranny?

    1. We’re a laughingstock because of hirm. All the people whining about Trump and how we look on the world stage are the same people now slobbering all over hirs mutilated stuffed-up-into-its-guts knob.

      1. I think it’s mostly kind of a lifetime achievement award. The Academy ignored her performance in Pink Flamingos even though the vast majority of viewers think the dog shit eating scene was a seminal moment in cinematic history.

  3. I’m still flummoxed why Zuck hasn’t been telling them to go eat a bag of dicks. I mean…he started there. Then they made their threats. And he caved? Why did he cave?

    I’m sure I’ll never be in a position where badmouthing Congress might cost me billions. But I’m sorry…it seemed pretty clear that Zuck was against all of these censors originally. Would he really have been that put out if they broke up is company and he was left with billions in scraps?

    1. Probably because the company means more to him than his pride. He’ll have billions either way, as you point out. I can see why someone who just wants to run a business would placate Congress in an attempt to just be left alone. Someone should have warned him ages ago that he’ll never be left alone, though.

    2. >>Why did he cave?

      it benefits him in whatever way it does.

    3. But Zuckerberg knows if congress regulates it will be him and Dorsey who benefit. Big companies can afford the stupid new laws, their smaller upstarts cannot. All Zuckerberg needs to do is make sure he doesn’t break out in a grin and give away his hand.

      1. All Zuckerberg needs to do is make sure he doesn’t break out in a grin and give away his hand.

        This.

      2. Since he’s a robot, that shouldn’t be hard.

    4. My guess: Because Zuck was all strong and anti censorship… and then the talks about removing section 230 protections started happening?

      So he caved, because caving a little to put them at bay would be less damaging than the consequences of losing the section 230 protections they currently have?

      1. I swear I thought Facebook started all the censorship. Twitter took it farther and faster, but didn’t Facebook begin with a crew of fact checkers after the Russian Memepocalypse of 2016?

        1. Yes, with pressure from the government after the 2016 elections

    5. Something kinda similar happened to Bill Gates a while back and he turned into one of the biggest assholes the world has ever seen. I can envision a similar outcome for Zuck.

  4. How long did the Eastern Bloc and the USSR fight to gain free access to information only to have the USA turn around and demand the opposite? When Poland is smarter than you on something, it’s time to check yourself.

  5. So if Zuckerberg, Pichai, and Dorsey agree that vaccines work, anybody that disagrees with them on the exact details of the vaccine are engaging in misinformation? What if Zuckerberg, Pichai, and Dorsey were to agree that Rep. Mike Doyle is a moron and a vile piece of shit, would Rep. Mike Doyle agree that anybody who argues that Rep. Mike Doyle is not a moron and a vile piece of shit is engaging in disinformation?

    1. I don’t know Mike Doyle, but I’m willing to bet that he is a vile piece of shit.

      1. I don’t think he is a literal pile of excrement. I mean, he can walk and talk, and no bona fide turd has ever done that before. Lacking legs and lips and all. But I will agree that medically speaking, he is a certifiable moron.

        1. What about Bono?

          1. watch out for that tree!

          2. Bono would come after Doyle, so that would make him number two.

        2. “and no bona fide turd has ever done that before.”

          Oh?

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FIxMHCJ4I9Y

  6. “Don’t wear masks. I mean, yeah maybe wear masks. But you definitely have to wear masks, or else!”

    “Half a million people have died of COVID. Well, with COVID. And by with, I mean they died at some point after maybe having had COVID.”

    “We need everyone to stay 6 feet apart. Actually, it’s 10 feet apart, just to be safe. But now it can be 3 feet apart because we want the current admin to look good.”

    “It’s only 15 days to bend the curve.”

    1. “Asymptomatic transmission is common. Well, actually it’s not, but we’re going to pretend that it is because otherwise everything else we’re doing looks completely foolish.”

      “You still need to mask up and socially distance even after vaccination.”

      “Super-spreader events!”

      “Vaccine makers need to have their products reviewed by the FDA to make sure they are safe and effective.”

      1. Yeah the “experts” that could be charged with misinformation includes basically everybody who appeared on TV about covid.

        A good place to start, I guess.

      2. Hanging on your every word and I can’t wait to see what comes next. How can I subscribe to your newsletter?

    2. Stop spreading disinformation.

      You must wear 2 masks. It is known.

      1. It’ll be three masks sometime next month

  7. I’ve been fighting covid hysteria (business and school closures, curfews, mask mandates, etc) on Twitter for over a year now, and despite the many false accusations of spreading disinformation, Twitter hasn’t censored or banned me. I give them a lot of credit for their forbearance despite tremendous pressure from the government and their own users. Though, they banned me for different spurious reasons, but no one’s perfect – even Reason banned me repeatedly. But the cool thing is, you just dust yourself off and get back in the fight.

    The war today is online. And if you can’t prove you fought it in enemy territory (not just here in your safe space echo chamber), you have no justification for violence and will meet the same fate as the Jan 6 insurrectionists.

    1. I’ve been fighting covid hysteria (business and school closures, curfews, mask mandates, etc) on Twitter for over a year now

      Well there’s your problem right there.

      1. If you run from the fight that’s fine, but then you cede any justification for insurrection, violence, or intimidating judges because you don’t like their rulings.

        1. Hey AddictionMyth, are you in jail yet for insurrectionist violence with the trumpanzees gone apeshit, trying to replace democracy with mobocracy? If you’re not in jail yet, you’re not fighting hard enough! Just think, if you were in jail right now, you’d have more time to write that sequel to “Mein Kampf” that you’ve been thinking about! You could be advancing “My Fight (Struggle)”!

          Also, if you REALLY had your back into this Noble Cause, you’d be fighting off $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits (like Sidney Powell is) by saying that all those lies that you were telling? Well, everyone should have KNOWN that they were obviously LIES, so it is on THEM for being stupid enough to believe your lies!

          Get WITH it, get in the fight! Fight like a “Mensch”! Mobocracy depends on YOU!

      1. Why? To give you an excuse for violence? HAHA no thanks.

        (But thanks in advance for vindicating me regardless.)

  8. Shocker that the Ministry of Truth doesn’t want competition.

  9. That’s just whataboutism.

    Anyway I like having the government beat the shit out of tech companies, especially social media which should be shut down.

  10. The federal government has always followed the science.
    First when the science said no mask needed.
    Then when the science said it spreads on surfaces, clean everything.
    Then when the science said just stay six feet apart and you don’t need a “cloth face covering”.
    Then when the science said its an aerosol, wear a “cloth face covering”.
    Then when the science said wear a “cloth face covering” AND stay six feet apart.
    Then when the science said wear two (or more) “cloth face coverings”.
    Then when the science said get a vaccine so we can stop wearing “cloth face coverings”.
    Then when the science said even if you get vaccinated, wear a “cloth face covering” AND stay six feet apart.

    But they have always followed the science.

  11. Just stop using Twitter and Facebook. All problems solved.

    I do not understand this debate.

    1. Congressmen have wangs to wag. Dorsey and Zuck are just convenient targets to wave them all.

    2. Fine but then you cede any justification for insurrection, violence or intimidating judges.

      1. You may be more retarded than sqrlsy

        1. Pretty sure he’s a fed trying to recruit for a conspiracy.

          1. For sure.

            Fedpoasting like a motherfucker

          2. “Pretty sure he’s a fed trying to recruit for a conspiracy.”

            Yes, AddictionMyth is HIGHLY likely to be a Federal Agent of the Government Almighty, here on a “sting” / “stink” operation! And thanks for THAT much insight!

            And YOU, R Mac, are here to obey your emotions / instincts, from the hunter-gatherer days! If a fellow tribe member brings more “red meat” home for the tribe… OR, more benevolence and wisdom, for that matter… ALL other tribe members MUST immediately jump his shit, and make him look bad! I MUST make others look BAD, so that I can look BETTER! That is YOU, R Mac the troglodyte!

            If you have the BALLS to look yourself in the mirror, see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/Do_Gooders_Bad/ … But I bet you do NOT have the courage!

        2. If you can’t win a fight against sqrlsy then you have no hope when the socialists arrive here.

        3. Well, they do both like to pat themselves on the back a lot.

          Retardation edge still goes to sqrlsy tho.

      2. The problem with FBI agents is that they are basically on the same intellectual level as college interns. Do they teach you to suck cocks at Quantico yet?

          1. Astroturf elsewhere, kid.

  12. “Then why have your companies allowed accounts that repeatedly offend your vaccine disinformation policies to remain up? ” thundered Doyle, as if he has caught them in some kind of trap.

    I would have replied…. “Sir, because I value diversity. Why don’t you?”

  13. Government is just upset about getting pwned by China on racism and now they are borrowing the playbook.

  14. Actually, a better way to turn the tables would be to ask for a specific example, and then ask the congressman to provide peer reviewed documentation of exactly how the tweet was maliciously wrong.

  15. The argument with SV and covid isn’t about government power, it is their ever changing definitions for bans.

    Last summer Zucherberg was pushing anti covid vaccine issues on his own platform and in the media, and then later in the year started banning people for doing the same thing he had.

    It is arbitrary and based on the leftist narrative of the day.

    1. Orange Vaccine Bad. Old Vaccine Good.

  16. Just a reminder that Zuckerberg spent half a billion dollars to install Biden as president and the left in totalitarian power.

    1. Anyone who thinks Zuckerberg is just a poor little hapless CEO being bullied by mean ol’ elected officials needs to have their head examined.
      This is pure theatre. Zuck owns most of those elected officials.

      1. Zuckerberg is a little turd, but he’s not that rich or that clever. He’s a little weasel who made his fortune off a stolen idea.

        1. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need to be particularly bright to try and run the world. Just dishonest and really, really, really rich.

  17. I’m old enough to remember last year when Dorsey was banning actual virologists for calling it the Wuhan virus and for talking positively about the efficacy of Trump’s practically fish tank cleaner.

    1. I have seen a couple of people talking about the social media bans on talking about things …. Even if you are an expert.

      Barnes and Frei are careful to avoid talking about election tampering, even when they are debunking some of the Q conspiracy theories. Dr. Drew has commented about how he isn’t allowed to talk online about medical issues related to Covid and vaccines. And don’t dare make fun of double masks. That is official science stuff, you can’t denigrate that stuff.

  18. Typo in the article (“is” should be “isn’t”):
    “Thousands of people are still dying every day because the U.S. government is letting its citizens be vaccinated fast enough”

    1. This is Robby we’re talking about.

  19. This is the big news of the day:

    “The President was at his most dishonest in addressing the Senate legislative filibuster. Asked if the 60-vote threshold is a legacy of racist Jim Crow, Mr. Biden said yes.”

    —-WSJ

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-lifts-the-curtain-11616711995?

    The filibuster probably won’t survive the pressure building against it, and our rights are likely to be stream rolled. The Democrats will redeploy the national guard to the National Mall before they’ll let average Americans organize a protest against what they’re planning to do to us. We won’t know for sure until the other shoe drops, but Biden signaling his support for killing the filibuster as a legacy of racism is probably a very big deal.

    1. That is genius strategy. Whoever thought up going after confederate monuments so they could go after Washington, Jefferson and the enlightenment was a genius. Now they can do and say anything…. The filibuster is a racist Jim Crow relic. Done and done. We must end racism.

      Pure genius.

  20. Not really in the category of misinformation, but I spent the day at Kennedy Space Center today. Because of Biden’s day 1 covid decree for theatrical purposes, everyone is required to wear a mask at all times in federal buildings and on federal lands.

    So that meant a lot of ludicrous theater. I spent the day walking outside on a beautiful sunny and breezy Florida spring day wearing a mask, despite being dozens to hundreds of feet from the nearest person. This, despite the fact that my family and I have all already had the virus and are therefore not going to catch or transmit it at all.

    It was all theater to benefit dear leader.

    Worse, I watched maintenance men doing lawn work alone, hundred of yards from anyone in the 80 something degree sun wearing a mask. One guy was walking around outside with a spray bottle of disinfectant wiping down the plaques and benches and handrails. All alone… Wearing a mask. As we walked near where he was working, I made a joke about having to work outside, alone and wear a mask. He laughed and shot back that worse than that, he had already had both vaccine shots.

    Yeah, central planning is brilliant.

    1. Fucking insanity. All people need to do is stop going along with this shit. I can’t fucking believe this shit.

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  22. Congress is demanding the social media platforms suppress any information that does not conform to the government’s line. Remember, misinformation put out by government officials are noble lies intended to manipulate the people to behave in the correct manner.

    What is going on here is a threat to free speech. Congress attempting to bully the social media platforms into censoring their user’s speech is an attempt to end run 1st Amendment protections. This is one of the reasons the social media platforms eagerness to deplatform people is a problem, because it is unclear that they are doing his to cozy up to government power.

    1. I agree.

      “Misinformation” and “facts” are dependent on perspective and viewpoint.

  23. ‘Why, in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than half a million Americans—and is still killing more than 1,000 people every day…’

    talk about damned misinformation; sick people in their late seventies being ‘killed’ by a mild viral infection…bullshit, Robby, pure bs…

  24. “lawmakers seem more interested in finding a way to blame this on Facebook.”

    Well, to be fair they are evil. Not because they’re a successful corporation but because of the cancer they have become in our society. The only thing that makes them better than congress is that I can generally choose not to use their services.

    There’s nothing new in a politician looking for a boogeyman or sound bites that can be replayed without context.

  25. Can they use the Antitrust act to break up dude’s beard?

  26. This is more than a bit rich, it’s fucking disturbing. The whole notion that “misinformation” must be stamped out is totally contrary to the ethic of free expression. It is essential to have dissenting voices. Even if anti-vaxxers, for example, are totally wrong in many of their claims, that doesn’t mean that they are wrong about everything and don’t have any worthwhile or important observations about the situation.

    1. its literally censorship vs free speech. moderation is only applicable after the fact when something is flagged and reviewed. zuckerdouche, sundar the evil, and jack dorky dont care about that because no one will forcible reprimand them.

  27. morons questioning dorks and weasels. what could possibly go wrong?

  28. Grown men should not have nose rings.

  29. Government is just upset about getting pwned by China on racism

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