The Office of the Surgeon General has upped its tracking of "disinformation" related to the coronavirus pandemic on social media platforms, the press secretary said during a press briefing.
"We're flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We're working with doctors and medical experts…who are popular with their audience with accurate information," she said. "So, we're helping get trusted content out there."
The Surgeon General's office issued a new report Wednesday titled, "Confronting Health Misinformation," that makes recommendations for social media platforms to "impose clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies."
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy during the Thursday briefing said misinformation is a public health threat.
"Surgeon General advisories are [usually] reserved for urgent public health threats," he said. "And while those threats have often been related to what we eat, drink, & smoke, today we live in a world where misinformation poses an imminent & insidious threat to our nation’s health."
"So now the Biden Administration is using @Facebook speech code. The social media platforms are increasingly just arms of the federal government and the Biden White House," Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted.
He noted that social media companies "treated all talk of any #COVID19 lab connection as illegitimate speech to be banned and penalized … despite knowing nothing about the actual science or intelligence findings," referencing reports of a potential link between the origins of coronavirus and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Journalist and founder of The Intercept Glenn Greenwald, who helped break whistleblower Edward Snowden's story about National Security Agency surveillance in 2013, criticized the White House's moderation efforts as "authoritarianism."
"There is no circumstance — none — in which it's acceptable for the White House or any other agency of the government to be providing lists to Facebook of ‘problematic’ content it wants removed, yet's that exactly what Psaki says they're doing," he wrote.
Facebook since the early days of the pandemic has used human moderators, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) tools, to remove or fact-check content related to COVID-19 and vaccines that may potentially harm users on the platform, as well as on Instagram, according to its website.
"We’ve removed more than 12 million pieces of content about COVID-19 and vaccines," a Facebook blog post from April 19 reads.