September 09, 2021

Schiff Sends Letters to Amazon and Facebook CEOs Regarding Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif) urged the chief executives of both Amazon and Facebook to address the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on their respective platforms, as part of a continuing legislative effort to curb anti-vaccine disinformation during a public health emergency. In separate letters to Andy Jassy, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, Schiff asked both companies to transparently and thoroughly detail efforts they’ve undertaken to stop content that undermines science and promotes vaccine misinformation to the public.

“Vaccine hesitancy fueled by misinformation stands between us and truly ending the COVID-19 pandemic. And nowhere is that misinformation more apparent, potent, and transmissible than on social media and e-commerce sites,” said Schiff after sending the letters. “As the administration of vaccines around the country continues, misinformation is on the rise on major online platforms. But despite some concrete and positive steps previously taken, these companies owe both the public and the Congress additional answers about the exponential and dangerous proliferation of misinformation, and what the platforms are doing to address the viral spread of conspiratorial falsehoods and myths, over good science.”

In the letters to both Amazon and Facebook, Schiff writes:

“Yet even as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, leading public health experts have cautioned that vaccination rates in the U.S. have stagnated, mainly because of vaccine hesitancy. We cannot allow the rapid and dangerous spread of anti-vaccine marketing and misinformation to keep Americans from the valid, factual information they need to protect themselves from this virus.

“…It is the duty of Congress to investigate the challenges our constituents face and whether legislation is needed to ensure their safety. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the health of our communities and the lives of thousands of Americans relying on our ability to achieve herd immunity, I write to  you again seeking a more thorough explanation of what [Amazon and Facebook are] doing to mitigate the dangerous spread of  vaccine misinformation.”

Currently 53% of all Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet, despite this tremendous achievement, the Delta variant has surged to devastating new highs among those who remain unvaccinated, bringing America’s COVID-19 rates to levels not seen since 2020’s catastrophic winter surge, before vaccinations became widely available.

In 2019, Schiff sent a letter to Jeffrey Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg to express similar concerns about the propagation of general vaccine misinformation on their platforms, prior to the current and ongoing pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans. The responses from both Amazon and Facebook failed to fully answer or account for the issues Schiff raised, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only made the need for transparency and answers more critical as vaccine hesitancy continues to prolong this crisis, needlessly endangering of millions of people.

 

Click here to read Schiff’s full letter to Amazon.

Click here to read Schiff’s full letter to Facebook.

 

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