In a speech Tuesday (Dec. 21) carried on the Big Four major broadcast and cable news networks, President Joe Biden blamed vaccine resistance in part on dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media.
While he said the vaccine decision is personal, he also said “purveyors of lies and misinformation“ about vaccines were “wrong and immoral” and called on them to “stop it, now.”
The Centers for Disease Control defines misinformation as “false information shared by people who do not intend to mislead others” and disinformation as that same false information “deliberately created and disseminated with malicious intent.”
The CDC has created a primer for stakeholders on how to monitor social media and traditional media for misinformation and disinformation.
The platforms it suggests monitoring are Twitter, Facebook/Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp and Google Trends.
Dr. Jerome Adams, former surgeon general, said on CNN that the media could certainly be doing more to put out positive messages, asking where all the PSAs were about how vaccines don't cause infertility or how people should get vaccinated even if they have had COVID-19. He said pushing for accurate information would be better than simply pointing fingers.
Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine agreed. He said that the Biden administration was indeed pointing fingers at Facebook and conservative media, which was understandable, but that it did not have the appetite to actually go after the groups purveying that disinformation.
“The President’s remarks echo what our research has been exposing in this year of disinformation, with its devastating and deadly consequences," said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). "President Biden is right to call out the scions of Big Tech who profit from the spread of vaccine misinformation on their platforms."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.