In July, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL09), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA18), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting information on how the company is handling COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation.
The letter was written in support of a request by the Attorney General of the District of Columbia. “The Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, has called on Facebook to publicly release the results of an internal study that reportedly examined the role the company has played in the spread of misinformation and disinformation throughout the pandemic,” wrote Reps. Eshoo and Schakowsky.
The question of the role of Facebook in propagating COVID-19 mis- and disinformation has been a contentious one, especially since Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a report calling on social media platforms to do more to address the issue, and subsequent comments by President Joe Biden suggested social media platforms are “killing people” by spreading false claims about vaccines.
In a letter to the two Representatives a month after their query, Facebook replied that it would not provide any further information to Congress “outside of what Mark has said publicly.” In a footnote, it directs the Representatives to a CBS morning news segment aired last week.SchakowskyEshooResponse-8-25-21
This piece will be updated.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.