The decade's most triggering comedy
President Joe Biden has been roundly criticized for his endless stream of gaffes and so-called “senior moments.” But the president hit a new pinnacle this week when he said 12 people are responsible for COVID-19 misinformation — then never named the Dirty Dozen.
Biden on Monday once again took aim at Facebook over COVID-19 vaccine information that appears on the social media platform but backed away from his earlier contention that Facebook is “killing people” — although he said, “I meant precisely what I said.”
“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,” Biden said, appearing to cite data from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The Center reported in March that “about a dozen people were super-spreaders of anti-vaccine misinformation,” CNN reported.
“My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant,” Biden told reporters after delivering a speech at the White House on the economy.
But Biden never identified “these 12 people.”
The Center’s report said this: “Just twelve anti-vaxxers are responsible for almost two-thirds of anti-vaccine content circulating on social media platforms. This new analysis of content posted or shared to social media over 812,000 times between February and March uncovers how a tiny group of determined anti-vaxxers is responsible for a tidal wave of disinformation – and shows how platforms can fix it by enforcing their standards.”
“The most effective and efficient way to stop the dissemination of harmful information is to deplatform the most highly visible repeat offenders, who we term the Disinformation Dozen. This should also include the organisations these individuals control or fund, as well as any backup accounts they have established to evade removal,” said the Center.
Then it listed the dozen:
The Center called on Facebook and Twitter to shut down all pages run by the dozen, as well as several websites.
“In addition to deplatforming the personal accounts of the Disinformation Dozen, platforms must also acknowledge the real-world networks they use to spread their antivaccine messages. This means deplatforming key organisations that are linked to the Disinformation Dozen or simply help spread their messages.
The White House on Thursday also referenced the dozen. “There’s about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday also declared that COVID-19 vaccine misinformation presents a deadly threat to public health. “Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,” Murthy said at the White House. “We must confront misinformation as a nation. Lives are depending on it.”