Joe Biden’s accusing Facebook of killing people was an unforced error, and a rather bizarre one. Facebook is closely aligned with the Democratic Party–Mark Zuckerberg may have done more to win the 2020 election for Joe Biden than anyone else, including Biden–and it was pointless and damaging for Biden to level such an accusation. Moreover, it gave a senior Facebook executive the opportunity to point out that Biden was scapegoating the company for its own failure to meet its vaccination goals.
Today, predictably, Biden changed his mind:
“Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information,” Biden told reporters after giving remarks about the economy, referencing a study that showed a dozen accounts on Facebook are responsible for the majority of misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine seen on the platform.
“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, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine,” Biden added. “That’s what I meant.”
Those 12 accounts, by the way, are widely diverse and share no ideological point of view. One of the “dirty dozen” is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a long-time anti-vaxxer, as are several of the others.
The most notable aspect of this incident, I think, is that it is one of a number of recent occasions when Biden has spoken with the caustic, belligerent tone that you see in some men as they enter their dotage. No doubt his entourage was horrified when he accused their friends at Facebook of “killing people,” but cleaning up after this kind of outburst is something they are increasingly accustomed to.