President Biden’s chief surgeon wants Big Tech to pass on information about how widespread COVID-19 misinformation is on social media, search engines, messaging systems and e-commerce sites, and who consumes it.
Dr. Vivek Merty’s efforts are a continuation of the White House’s complaints about false information on the Internet that prevents them from being vaccinated, but is likely to spark cries that the administration is overstretching or trying to stop unproven COVID-19 treatments that have gained popularity in some circles. .
Dr Merty gave companies until May 2 to provide data on “exactly how many users saw or could be exposed to Covid-19 disinformation” and which demographic groups could be exposed to that information, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
“Technology companies now have the opportunity to be open and transparent with the American people regarding disinformation on their platforms,” Dr. Merty told The Times. “It’s about protecting the health of the nation.”
Dr. Merty has been warning about the harm of bad information about COVID-19 online for months. This is the first request for real data, but it seems a fine for non-compliance is not provided.
These efforts are part of Mr. Biden’s new strategy to fight the virus as something that causes minimal disruption in society.
The Surgeon General also wants physicians and health professionals to report trends on how COVID-19 misinformation affects patients.