Several US states ask Facebook and Twitter to erase anti-vaccine hoaxes. Both firms already act against lies on their platforms, but prosecutors see it as insufficient.

A coalition of attorneys general from 12 US states , all of them Democrats, on Wednesday asked the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter to do more to eliminate false information about covid-19 vaccines circulating on the internet.

“Since anti-vaccines use their platforms, you are in a unique position to prevent the spread of false information about coronavirus vaccines,” the attorneys general said. For the signatories, this false information poses a “direct threat” to the health and well-being of millions of Americans and can stand in the way of economic reopening and recovery.

Politicians pointed to a recent study according to which anti-vaccine accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and YouTube accumulate more than 59 million followers .

The letter was published just hours before the CEOs of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google, Sundar Pichai, testify before a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives on Thursday. The interventions of the three technology managers will focus precisely on the role that their companies play in the spread of false information and political extremism.

Facebook pledged at the beginning of February to censor any false information about covid-19 and vaccines that users share in groups, pages or in their personal accounts, prohibiting everything that has been denied by the health authorities. Thus, comments that question the effectiveness of vaccines, that claim that they are more dangerous than the disease itself or that they are toxic and cause autism, are not allowed.

The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating the company for more than a year.
Twitter, for its part, also announced at the beginning of March that it would tag those messages that it considered to contain misleading content about the covid-19 vaccine and, if these were “very harmful”, it would delete them directly .

Despite this, the attorneys general believe that neither company is doing enough and that misinformation about vaccines continues to have too much presence on social media.

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