Schakowsky, Eshoo Demand Answers From Facebook on Vaccine Misinformation and Disinformation

July 28, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook demanding answers to how the company is handling COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation. The letter follows several failures from Facebook to provide requested information on the topic, most recently to the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Karl Racine.

The letter reads, in part:

“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. We agree with his assessment and urge you to publish the internal study. Identifying online communities who’ve had the most exposure to the falsehoods, lies and distortions that have appeared on your platform serves the best interests of global public health. It’s past time for Facebook to come clean about your role in prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic and commit to rectifying deadly mistakes that it has made in the past year.

”Your failure to meet Mr. Racine’s deadline is just the latest in a long line of failures to disclose or act upon internal research that outlines Facebook’s role in the spread of misinformation and disinformation. This includes research on racial bias in Facebook's algorithms, your failings leading up to the January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol, and the polarizing impact of your platform, just to name a few.

“Misinformation and disinformation have run rampant on Facebook and Instagram since the beginning of the epidemic. Facebook has housed, and even recommended, pages and groups that share misinformation about masks and handwashing, myths about children’s ability to contract COVID-19, false claims about the dangers of that COVID-19, and lies about vaccines efficacy. This content is undermining efforts to curb the pandemic and save lives, yet they continue to operate and spread their lies on your platform despite grave consequences. As a result, the pandemic rages on and people continue to die from COVID-19.”

A PDF of the final letter is available HERE.