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Social networks should be held accountable for spreading misinfo

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a remote video hearing held by subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on “Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation” in Washington, March 25, 2021.

U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee | Handout | via Reuters

Social media giants should be held accountable for publishing misinformation, the White House communications director said Tuesday.

The comments are the latest from the Biden administration in a tiff over whether or not social media companies, specifically Facebook, are harming users by showing Covid-19 vaccine misinformation.

When asked by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski whether these companies should be held liable for publishing false information that causes people harm, Kate Bedingfield said the administration is reviewing policies. That could include amending the Communications Decency Act, or Section 230.

“We’re reviewing that, and certainly they should be held accountable,” Bedingfield said. “And I think you’ve heard the president speak very aggressively about this. He understands this is an important piece of the ecosystem.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki previously said the Biden administration had started “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” and that the government had proposed changes to major social media platforms.

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Tuesday’s comments follow a fight between the White House and Facebook, after President Joe Biden last week said that giants like Facebook were “killing people” by allowing disinformation regarding Covid vaccines.

“I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people,” Biden said Friday.

Facebook responded by saying that the company “will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts.”

Biden later clarified that it wasn’t Facebook that was killing people, but the users who were posting the falsehoods. However, he said he hoped Facebook would do more to fight “the outrageous misinformation” about coronavirus vaccines being spread on its platform.

“Again, I would go back to, there are conservative outlets who are creating irresponsible content, that are sharing misinformation about the virus that’s getting shared on these platforms,” Bedingfield said.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for additional comment on Bedingfield’s remarks.

— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed reporting.

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