After his public outburst against Facebook and all the other social media conglomerates, US President Joe Biden toned down his comments but urged the world's largest social network to tackle the spread of misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine more actively.
"Facebook isn't killing people," Biden stressed in response to a reporter asking about the flap.
"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," he said.
"That's what I meant."
Biden added that he had learned a dozen people were largely responsible for disseminating false news about the vaccines.
"These 12 people who are out there giving misinformation -- anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information," Biden said.
Last week, the president lashed out at these social media platforms, saying, "They are killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they are killing people," in an apparent reference to the 'disinformation dozen'.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki too said: "We are not in a war or in a battle with Facebook, we are in a battle with the virus."
Following the statements from the White House, Facebook, which has contracted outside fact-checkers in an effort to clean up its content, quickly fired back at the White House on Friday, with a company spokesperson saying "the facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period."
Concerned that the US vaccination effort is stalling at a time when the deadly Delta strain is causing a rise in new infections, the White House stepped up its rhetoric against digital companies this week, urging them to step up their battle against disinformation.
Along with the virus itself, the Untied States have been plagued by vaccine hesitancy, with many saying they do not trust the shots. The scepticism is being fueled both by false posts spread by anti-vaccine activists online and by Republican politicians claiming the vaccinations are part of attempts at government control.