Health

Surgeon General Releases ‘Misinformation Advisory’ Calling For More Intervention From Big Tech, Peer Pressure

(Photo by Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
Font Size:

The office of Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released an advisory Thursday urging Americans to do more to combat medical misinformation as the U.S. fights off the COVID-19 pandemic.

The advisory defines misinformation as “information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has recently taken more aggressive steps toward combatting medical misinformation related to COVID-19, particularly as it pertains to vaccines.

According to the Surgeon General, technology is to blame for much of the current spread of misinformation: “Product features built into technology platforms have contributed to the spread of misinformation… These features help connect and inform people but reward engagement rather than accuracy, allowing emotionally charged misinformation to spread more easily than emotionally neutral content.”

The advisory offers guidance on ways Americans can police misinformation in their own families or communities. “If someone you care about has a misperception, you might be able to make inroads with them by first seeking to understand instead of passing judgment,” it says. It also says educators should teach students how to properly identify false information and strengthen media literacy. (RELATED: Biden Administration Recruits Teen Pop Star Olivia Rodrigo To Get More Kids Vaccinated)

Technology platforms need to “address the harms” of their products by implementing more suggestions and warnings on misinformation, the Surgeon General said. They should also impose “clear consequences” on “super-spreaders” of misinformation and do more to protect health professionals and journalists from harassment, according to the advisory.

Big Tech companies have routinely flagged and censored legitimate information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially having to do with the COVID-19 lab-leak theory. Facebook recently altered its policy to allow certain information to be posted about the lab-leak theory that was previously banned.

In the early days of the pandemic. then-Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Americans that they did not need to wear a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19, and even went as far as to say regular people might increase their risk of getting the virus because they don’t know how to properly wear a mask. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top medical advisor, also claimed at the time that masks would not help combat the virus.

The Daily Caller contacted the Surgeon General’s office to ask if the statements by Adams and Fauci would be considered misinformation, and how Big Tech should go about regulating speech given its repeated failures to do so throughout the pandemic, but did not receive a response in time for publication.