President Joe Biden stepped down some of his criticisms of Facebook, saying Monday he wanted a dozen users, but not the social media platform itself, to accuse deadly lies about Covid vaccines.
"Facebook doesn't kill people," said Biden.
Biden added that he hopes Facebook will do more to combat "the outrageous misinformation" about the spread of coronavirus vaccines on its platform, "instead of taking it personally that I somehow say Facebook is killing people" .
Last week, Biden seemed to be saying exactly that: when asked outside the White House what his message was to platforms like Facebook regarding Covid disinformation, Biden said, "They're killing people."
"I mean, they really, you see, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that is – they kill people," Biden said on Friday.
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Facebook had reacted defensively, saying through a spokesman that it "does not allow itself to be distracted by allegations that are not supported by the facts".
"The facts show that Facebook is helping to save lives," added the spokesman.
The dispute came just a day after White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Biden government had begun "flagging problematic posts on Facebook that spread disinformation" and that the government was making changes to major social media -Media platforms suggested.
On the same day, US surgeon general Vivek Murthy stated that Covid misinformation posed an urgent public health threat. He made explicit reference to the product features and algorithms of social media companies that can pull people "deeper and deeper into a source of misinformation".
At the White House on Monday, Biden took the opportunity to clear up his remarks when asked about the controversy by reporters.
"I'm glad you asked me this question," said Biden after a speech on the economic situation.
Biden said that shortly before the allegation that Facebook was "killing people" he read a report that 60% of the misinformation about Covid vaccines came from just a dozen social media accounts.
“Facebook doesn't kill people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone who hears it will be hurt by it. It kills people. It's bad information, ”said Biden.
"My hope is that instead of taking it personally, that I somehow say that Facebook is killing people, it would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine."
"That's what I meant," said the President.
Facebook did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Biden's recent remarks.
– CNBC's Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.