(7-18-21) US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he issued his advisory about covid-19 misinformation because it’s impacting people’s decisions.
“We know now, especially with the delta variant, that the vast majority of the people getting sick..are the people who are unvaccinated.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Facebook needs to do more to fight misinformation regarding coronavirus vaccines.
Well, first, we are in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.
In terms of actions, that we have taken — or we’re working to take, I should say — from the federal government: We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect — to connect medical experts with popular — with popular — who are popular with their audiences with — with accurate information and boost trusted content. So we’re helping get trusted content out there.
Psaki gave no details on what is actually taking place in the ‘flagging’ process…are names being kept, what federal agencies are involved and what is considered misinformation are just some of the issues not being detailed.
Murthy said on a Sunday morning talk show that he supports individual counties reinstating mask mandates to combat local surges of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people — like Los Angeles County did last week — as the pathogen’s highly contagious delta variant drives a spike in infections.
“It’s very reasonable for counties to take more mitigation measures like the mask rules you see coming out in L.A., and I anticipate that will happen in other parts of the country too,”
Former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb
“This virus is so contagious, this variant is so contagious that it’s going to infect the majority — that most people will either get vaccinated or have been previously infected or they will get this Delta variant.”
US Surgeon General Press Release
U.S. Surgeon General Issues Advisory During COVID-19 Vaccination Push Warning American Public About Threat of Health Misinformation
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is issuing the first Surgeon General’s Advisory of this Administration to warn the American public about the urgent threat of health misinformation. Health misinformation, including disinformation, have threatened the U.S. response to COVID-19 and continue to prevent Americans from getting vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic and putting lives at risk, and the advisory encourages technology and social media companies to take more responsibility to stop online spread of health misinformation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been exposed to a wide range of misinformation about masks and social distancing, treatments, and vaccines. As of late May, 67% of unvaccinated adults had heard at least one COVID-19 vaccine myth and either believed it to be true or were not sure of its veracity. Health misinformation has already caused significant harm , dividing families and communities and undermining vaccination efforts. An analysis of millions of social media posts found that false news stories were 70 percent more likely to be shared than true stories. And a recent study showed that even brief exposure to misinformation made people less likely to want a COVID-19 vaccine.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy
“Health misinformation is an urgent threat to public health. It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As Surgeon General, my job is to help people stay safe and healthy, and without limiting the spread of health misinformation, American lives are at risk. From the tech and social media companies who must do more to address the spread on their platforms, to all of us identifying and avoiding sharing misinformation, tackling this challenge will require an all-of-society approach, but it is critical for the long-term health of our nation.”
Health misinformation is information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence. It is not a recent phenomenon, and persistent rumors about HIV/AIDS for decades have undermined efforts to reduce infection rates in the U.S. During the Ebola epidemic, misinformation spread rapidly on social media. A 2014 study – PDF found that Ebola-related tweets that contained misinformation were more likely to be politically charged and have content promoting discord.
This advisory lays out how the nation can confront health misinformation by helping individuals, families, and communities better identify and limit its spread, and issues a number of ways institutions in education, media, medicine, research, and government stakeholders can approach this issue. It also underscores the urgent need for technology and social media companies to address the way misinformation and disinformation spread on their platforms, threatening people’s health.
Surgeon General’s Advisories are public statements that call the American people’s attention to a public health issue and provide recommendations for how it should be addressed. Advisories are reserved for significant public health challenges that need the American people’s immediate attention.
Read the full Surgeon General’s Advisory here: surgeongeneral.gov/healthmisinformation