Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy sent a formal request for information Thursday to major tech companies demanding data on “misinformation” related to the COVID-19 vaccine and the virus itself, The New York Times reported.
The request demanded the companies provide data on “exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of Covid-19 misinformation,” as well as the particular demographics most affected by misleading information, according to the NYT. Murthy also reportedly demanded data on the sources of COVID-19 misinformation, particularly related to discredited treatments for the virus.
“Technology companies now have the opportunity to be open and transparent with the American people about the misinformation on their platforms,” Murthy told the NYT. “This is about protecting the nation’s health.”
The move follows a “misinformation advisory” released by the Office of the Surgeon General in July 2021 alleging that “product features built into technology platforms have contributed to the spread of misinformation.”
“These features help connect and inform people but reward engagement rather than accuracy, allowing emotionally charged misinformation to spread more easily than emotionally neutral content,” Murthy wrote of the “misinformation advisory.”
The Biden administration has repeatedly pushed to crack down on misinformation, particularly related to COVID-19, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealing in July 2021 that the administration was working with Facebook to identify misleading posts.
Companies have until May 2 to comply with the request, according to the NYT.
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