Tom Miller, the Iowa Attorney General, was one of 12 AGs across America to sign a letter addressing vaccine disinformation.
The letter, sent by Connecticut AG William Tong, was addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“As Attorneys General committed to protecting the safety and well-being of the residents of our states, we write to express our concern about the use of your platforms to spread fraudulent information about coronavirus vaccines and to seek your cooperation in curtailing the dissemination of such information,” the letter said. “The people and groups spreading falsehoods and misleading Americans about the safety of coronavirus vaccines are threatening the health of our communities, slowing progress in getting our residents protected from the virus and undermining economic recovery in our states.”
The “end” of the pandemic is dependent upon the “widespread acceptance of these vaccines as safe and effective,” the letter said.
“Unfortunately, misinformation disseminated via your platforms has increased vaccine hesitancy, which will slow economic recovery and, more importantly, ultimately cause even more unnecessary deaths. A small group of individuals use your platforms to downplay the dangers of COVID-19 and spread misinformation about the safety of vaccines. These individuals lack medical expertise and are often motivated by financial interests.”
The letter cited a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, “anti-vaxxer” accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter reach more than 59 million followers.
“‘Anti-vaxxers’ are using social media platforms to target people of color and Black Americans specifically, members of communities who have suffered the worst health impacts of the virus and whose vaccination rates are lagging,” the letter said. “Given ‘anti-vaxxers’ reliance on your platforms, you are uniquely positioned to prevent the spread of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines that poses a direct threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans in our states and that will prolong our road to recovery.”
The AGs said it is apparent Facebook has “not taken sufficient action to identify violations and enforce these guidelines by removing and labeling misinformation and banning repeat offenders.”
“As a result, anti-vaccine misinformation continues to spread on your platforms, in violation of your community standards,” the letter said. “We call on you to take immediate steps to fully enforce your companies’ guidelines against vaccine misinformation. By effectively rooting our fraudulent information about coronavirus vaccines, you can prevent needless illness and death and hasten our road to recovery.”