US Surgeon General Urges Big Tech Companies to Redesign Algorithms to Curb Covid-19 Rumors

Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, ripped into leading technology companies for enabling Covid-19 misinformation and urged them to redevelop their recommendation algorithms and design built-in frictions to slow the spread of “poison” on social media platforms.   

“Today’s technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information ecosystem with little accountability to their users,” Vivek Murthy stated at a White House briefing on July 15. “We are asking them to step up, we cannot wait longer for them to take aggressive action.”   

“Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,” he added. “Therefore, we must confront misinformation as a nation. Lives depend on it.”   

A 22-page advisory released on July 15 by Vivek Murthy highlighted a string of false claims that have been misleading people from vaccines when the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations has slowed down throughout the US.   

Read More: India Accounts For Highest Number Of Unvaccinated, Under-vaccinated Children Globally: UNICEF

The advisory recommendation list includes a total of eight stakeholder groups. It primarily focuses on teachers to provide them with media literacy. It also asks journalists to debunk health misinformation and stop spreading it immediately. For doctors, the advisory list suggests listening with empathy and, when possible, clear rumours or misinformation in personalised ways.   

The Surgeon General is personally “concerned” as he has lost ten family members to Covid-19 so far. Therefore, “each and every day,” he wishes that they had the opportunity to get inoculated.   

Murthy has called for a national effort from tech companies, healthcare workers, journalists, and all American citizens to advocate the “urgent threat” posed to public health.   

Although the United States is one of the countries with the highest number of vaccinated people globally, fresh Covid-19 infections have doubled over the last two weeks.    

The New York Times on July 15 reported that cases are inclining again in 47 states of America. Los Angeles, the second-most populous state in the US, reported over 1,000 new cases for the fifth consecutive day, which worries the administration, including Vivek Murthy.  

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