Nessel asks Facebook, Twitter to crack down on false 'anti-vaxxer' posts

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined 11 other Democratic attorneys general in asking Facebook and Twitter to stop the sharing of "anti-vaxxer coronavirus disinformation."

The letters to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urges them both to crack down on misinformation, as company guidelines dictate, "to prevent needless infection and death and to hasten the road to recovery."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The attorneys general, citing the Center for Countering Digital Hate, allege incorrect information on the coronavirus vaccine has reached 59 million people, particularly people of color, through social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. 

“The rampant disinformation being disseminated across social media platforms directly undermines all efforts to safely and quickly distribute vaccines and limit further loss of life," Nessel wrote.

The social media platforms should adhere to their own community guidelines on vaccine misinformation, the attorneys general said. Those guidelines should prompt the removal of "anti-vaxxer" accounts, the use of "misinformation labels or popups" on anti-vaccine material and the elimination of streaming loopholes that allow users to "skirt" the misinformation removal policies, the letter said. 

"At the same time, the company has mistakenly flagged pro-vaccine pages and content in ways that have undermined pro-vaccine public education efforts," the attorneys general wrote.

In addition to Michigan, the letter was signed by the Democratic attorneys general for Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.