"In private exchanges the Surgeon General has praised our work, including our efforts to inform people about COVID-19. They knew what they were doing. The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals," a Facebook spokesperson told NBC's Dylan Beyers.
"The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any place on the internet," the spokesperson said. "More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find our where and how to get the vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period."
President Biden on Friday accused Facebook of "killing people" by way of misinformation on coronavirus vaccines being shared on the website, saying, "The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people."
The rebuttals come after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the Biden administration has been "flagging" content for Facebook to remove.
"We're flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We're working with doctors and medical experts…who are popular with their audience with accurate information," she said. "So, we're helping get trusted content out there."
The Surgeon General's office issued a new report Wednesday titled, "Confronting Health Misinformation," that makes recommendations for social media platforms to "impose clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies."
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy during the Thursday briefing said misinformation is a public health threat.
"Surgeon General advisories are [usually] reserved for urgent public health threats," he said. "And while those threats have often been related to what we eat, drink, & smoke, today we live in a world where misinformation poses an imminent & insidious threat to our nation’s health."
Starting as early as January of 2020, Facebook's third-party fact-check team has been working with global health professionals to review and debunk false claims about the virus. The company lets users know when they have "liked" coronavirus hoaxes posted to the platform of more than 2 billion users, according to a blog post.
"We’ve removed more than 12 million pieces of content about COVID-19 and vaccines," a Facebook blog post from April 19 reads.
It also uses human moderators, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) tools, to remove or fact-check content related to COVID-19 and vaccines that may potentially harm users on the platform and on Instagram, according to its website. The company has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other local health departments to share information about the pandemic.
Still, critics have accused the website of giving a platform to voices that question the vaccine or COVID-19 in general.