Virus Outbreak US

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during the daily briefing July 15 at the White House in Washington, D.C. Murthy is worried about COVID-19 vaccine misinformation costing lives.

The United States Surgeon General said COVID-19 vaccine misinformation is costing lives as the highly infectious Delta variant continues its march across Missouri.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said most vaccine misinformation was coming from 12 groups.

President Joe Biden tempered his assessment that social media giants are “killing people” by hosting misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines on their platforms, saying Monday that he hoped they would not take it “personally” and instead would act to save lives.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told News-Press NOW on Tuesday the White House received the list of the 12 groups peddling most of the misinformation from a “foreign dark money group.”

“So the White House has cited this study from an overseas group, we have no idea who funds this group, we do know it’s not an independent group,” Hawley said. “We should know who’s funding that group.”

The group in question, according to the Guardian, is the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

In their report, which the White House cited, the CCDH said the 12 groups accounted for 73% of vaccine misinformation on Facebook.

The report said three of the 12 have been removed from most major platforms, however the CCDH called for them to be deplatformed entirely.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen presidents in the past who have enemies lists who have lists of people they don’t want to speak and (they) try to use the government to do that,” Hawley said. “The first amendment prohibits the government from censoring. And the government trying to use private companies to do that is really bad.”

At the White House, Biden continues to press social media companies.

“My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying ‘Facebook is killing people,’ that they would do something about the misinformation,” Biden said.

In the view of the administration, chastising the social media companies — who have come under mounting scrutiny in Washington over not just disinformation, but also antitrust and privacy practices — is a proxy for criticizing the originators of disinformation themselves. To avoid amplifying falsehoods, the White House has generally sought to avoid engaging directly with those spreading misinformation.

“Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said during remarks last week at the White House. “We must confront misinformation as a nation. Lives are depending on it.”

In an effort to increase vaccinations, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a vaccination lottery on Wednesday.

Missouri residents who’ve received at least one shot or plan to do so in the future are eligible.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Matt Hoffmann is a our lead investigative reporter. He can be reached at matt.hoffmann@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.

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