Zuckerberg Criticizes Trump's Covid-19 Response after Report Finds Facebook Top Source Of Misinformation

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has criticized the "disappointing" response to the surging COVID-19 pandemic by the Trump administration. In an interview with infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci Thursday, Zuckerberg said the U.S. was currently showing a record number of daily new cases and expressed concerns about how politicians are handling the outbreak.

"At this point, it is clear that the trajectory in the U.S. is significantly worse than many other countries and that our government and this administration have been considerably less effective in handling this," he said, via live-stream.

"I personally think that we need to take this a lot more seriously and our understanding of the disease, of course, is evolving and our response needs to be guided by science and our scientific understanding, even if it's not perfect at any given moment."

Zuckerberg said he believes the country's approach needs a "reset," saying that official health advice intended to save lives was often stymied by politics. "I believe the best way to improve both public health and economic opportunity in this country is to focus on beating this virus first," he said.

"I just think that it was avoidable and it's disappointing that we still don't have adequate testing, that the credibility of our top scientists like yourself and the CDC are being undermined and until recently parts of the administration were calling into question whether people should even follow basic best practices like wearing a mask."

Facebook has been criticized for being a top source of COVID-19 misinformation online, with one recent study suggesting it is more likely to be hosting fake insights about the highly-infectious respiratory disease than rival platforms Twitter or YouTube.

The research said 4,094 of a sample of 7,295 misleading virus claims had been traced to Facebook. For comparison, 1,066 false claims had originated on Twitter.

In April, a report from NewsGuard said Facebook pages were spreading misinformation, including false cures and conspiracy theories, despite the platform's efforts to limit such content from being uploaded and circulated among its billions of users.

Some posts were asserting that COVID-19 is a bioweapon, while others were spreading the claim that COVID-19 could be treated effectively with Vitamin C.

Referencing attacks on Dr. Fauci's credibility by members of the Trump administration, specifically the president's trade adviser Peter Navarro, Zuckerberg praised the scientist for "working tirelessly under very difficult conditions to help us all navigate this."

Dr. Fauci noted that while some parts of the country are doing well, others have been hit "very hard" by the disease, which has been linked to a novel coronavirus. "Southern states, exemplified by Florida, California, Arizona, Texas, have seen surges that are really quite disturbing... that is something that we must address," he said.

"There were some states that actually—when you look at what the guidelines were for opening, the checkpoints that you have to get past—some of them went too quickly. That, as I have said in previous discussions, is a recipe for getting into trouble."

Watch the full interview:

Live with Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, discussing how to slow the spread of Covid.

Live with Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, discussing how to slow the spread of Covid.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, July 16, 2020

In a Facebook post on July 15, Zuckerberg said Facebook and Instagram would both be showing alerts at the top of profiles reminding people to wear masks.

"We've already done this in the U.S. and we'll expand internationally starting this week," he wrote. "To further limit the spread of misinformation we're also launching Facts About Covid-19, a section in the Information Center that will debunk common myths about the pandemic, like rumors that drinking bleach will cure the virus (it won't)."

Facebook previously said that, in April alone, it put warning labels on roughly 50 million pieces of content related to COVID-19. It said it would start showing messages to users who "liked, reacted or commented" to harmful misinformation about COVID-19.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L) interviews Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. (R), who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Facebook/Screenshot