The White House increased the pressure on Silicon Valley to address vaccine misinformation on Thursday, naming twelve people as the “disinformation dozen,” claiming they were responsible for a large amount of misinformation about Covid-19.
“There’s about twelve people who are producing 65% of anti- vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
That figure comes from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which identified about a dozen people as “super-spreaders” of anti-vaccine misinformation in a report released in March.
At the time, the CCDH had asked Facebook and Twitter to take down all of those people’s pages.
The CCDH has named Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent figure in the anti-vaccine movement, as one of the people who should be banned from social media.
Kennedy’s Instagram page was taken down earlier this year for spreading false information about Covid-19, according to Facebook. Kennedy, on the other hand, is still allowed to use Facebook (FB), where he has over 300,000 followers.
“We don’t automatically disable accounts across our apps, because the accounts may post about different things on our different services,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN Thursday, explaining why Kennedy was kicked off one of its platforms but not the other.
Kennedy told NPR in March, when the CCDH report was released, that he had become more cautious on Facebook, which he also accused of censorship, according to NPR. “I have to post, like, unicorns and kitty cat pictures on there,” he said.
The CCDH announced on Friday that 35 social media accounts associated with the people it identified have been deactivated, losing 5.8 million followers, but 62 accounts with a total of 8.4 million followers remain active.
Meetings between the Biden administration and Facebook have become “tense,” according to a person familiar with the discussions, according to CNN.
According to the source, Kennedy’s still-active Facebook account is an example of what some White House officials see as Facebook’s inaction in the face of Covid-19 misinformation.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN on Friday that the company had taken down some pages and groups associated with the dozen or so people named by the CCDH, but would not say which ones.
A Twitter (TWTR) spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.