A Racine spokesperson told POLITICO that Facebook had stated it is taking steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. “But then, when Facebook was asked to demonstrate its work, it refused. AG Racine’s investigation is designed to verify that Facebook is taking every step possible to reduce vaccine misinformation and support public health.
Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, stated in response to the subpoena that they had “removed over 18 million pieces on Facebook and Instagram that violated our COVID-19 or vaccine misinformation policies and labeled more than 167 million COVID-19 contents rated falsely by our network of fact-checking partners.”
Under the microscope: Facebook, other tech companies have been subject to intense pressure from Washington Democratic leaders to clamp down on misleading news about the pandemic. They fear that they have contributed to widespread anti-masking sentiment and vaccine hesitancy.
Republicans have criticized Facebook’s over-policing of claims about the virus’s origin. Facebook recently said it would not take down any posts that claimed Covid-19 was human-made. This announcement came amid growing speculation that the virus might have accidentally leaked from China’s lab.
The tech giant has taken measures to counter misinformation about coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic. This includes expanding the number of health posts that the platform will label misleading and providing reliable information about the virus from global authorities to users.