Senator Richard Blumenthal is urging Twitter and Facebook to aggressively police their services for posts espousing anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories -- particularly ones that target pregnant women.
“I write with alarm about harassment on Facebook and Instagram of expectant mothers and women that have suffered miscarriages by groups and accounts promoting conspiracy theories and disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine,” the Democratic lawmaker from Connecticut said Thursday in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“Facebook must be willing to meet its commitments to stop health misinformation with forceful and effective action, and I write to request information about what steps it has taken to stop this horrific and destructive abuse,” the lawmaker added.
He sent a similar letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Blumenthal's letter was apparently sparked by a story in The Daily Beast, which reported this week that anti-vaxxers are harassing pregnant women who post about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as women who miscarried after publicly saying they were vaccinated and women who miscarried.
“Such disinformation is clearly coordinated, often through private groups and public pages that scour social media for targets and anecdotes for feeding their campaign,” Blumenthal wrote.
He added that both companies “have moved far too slow in responding to the targeted harassment and promotion of destructive conspiracy theories against women and people of color.”
Blumenthal is asking both companies to answer a host of questions, including how they are enforcing policies against misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
He is also asking Dorsey to explain why Twitter only labels COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, when Facebook's official policy calls for the removal of posts with false information about the vaccine.
The lawmaker has given the companies until February 28 to respond.