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Attorneys general of 12 states demand that Twitter and Facebook do more to shut down misinformation on vaccines

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'You can prevent needless illness and death'

Photo by DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

A letter signed by 12 state attorneys general demanded that Facebook and Twitter do more to shut down misinformation about vaccines on their social media platforms.

The letter was addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter.

"The people and groups spreading falsehoods and misleading Americans about the safety of coronavirus vaccines are threatening the health of our communities, slowing progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and undermining economic recovery in our states," read the letter.

The letter cites a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that found that "anti-vaxxer" accounts had gained a reach of more than 59 million followers to disseminate misinformation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

"'Anti-vaxxers' are using social media platforms to target people of color and Black Americans specifically, members of communities who have suffered the worst health impacts of the virus and whose vaccination rates are lagging," the letter continued.

"We call on you to take immediate steps to fully enforce your companies' guidelines against vaccine misinformation," the state attorneys concluded. "By effectively rooting out fraudulent information about coronavirus vaccines, you can prevent needless illness and death and hasten our road to recovery."

The letter was signed by the state attorneys from 12 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

The letter was sent just days ahead of testimony scheduled on Thursday from Big Tech CEOs before a joint hearing with House committees on technology, communications, and consumer protection. Testimony released ahead of the hearing from Zuckerberg showed that he planned on defending the company from accusations that it wasn't doing enough to combat misinformation.

"Platforms should not be held liable if a particular piece of content evades its detection — that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day," Zuckerberg said in the testimony.

Dorsey will tell members of Congress that he generally agrees with the criticism.

"As we look to the future, I agree with this committee that technology companies have work to do to earn trust from those who use our services," Dorsey said in his testimony.

Here's more about the Big Tech response to misinformation:

Here's what the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Twitter will tell Congress about fighting misinformation www.youtube.com

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