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Misinformation is a public health threat, warns US surgeon general

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US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy discussed the health advisory during a briefing at the White House.


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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Health misinformation is an “urgent threat” to the public amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That’s a warning from the first advisory issued by US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy during his administration. 

The advisory, issued Thursday, says misinformation has hampered US response to the pandemic and prevented Americans from getting vaccinated. It calls on social media companies, as well as individuals, to help fight health misinformation. 

“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,” said Murthy in a release. “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.”

Murthy spoke about the advisory during a briefing at the White House on Thursday. During that briefing White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there are about a dozen people creating 65% of the vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. That stat appears to come from a May report published by the Center for Countering Digital Hate

Psaki also specifically called out Facebook, saying the administration is flagging problematic posts to the social media giant. 

“There are about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms, all of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms that Facebook owns,” she said.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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