In a sudden crackdown on the social media platforms, US President Joe Biden lashed out on Friday at the lack of commitment from these conglomerates to tackle misinformation, saying that fake news and disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccinations on the internet is “killing people.”

“They are killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they are killing people,” Biden said while leaving for a weekend at the presidential retreat in Camp David, in an apparent reference to the ‘disinformation dozen’.

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki too targeted these platforms and said that Facebook and other social media corporations are not doing enough to stop the misinformation on their websites.

“There are about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms,” Psaki said, without identifying the ‘disinformation dozen’.

But why are Joe Biden and the entirety of the White House turning up the pressure knob on the social media platforms?

America stands at a very crucial juncture in the fight against coronavirus. After pacing through vaccination milestones early on, the country has suddenly hit a stagnancy, despite the ease of availability. 

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the vaccination curve taking a downhill slope can be attributed to vaccine hesitancy that has cropped up in people.

What is leading to hesitancy against a heavily tested vaccine? Well, the debate over vaccination has been overtly politicised and is rife with misinformation.

Nationwide, vaccination rates are dropping, while in 45 states, the rates of new cases this past week are at least 10% higher than the rates of new cases the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Even US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy made a rare appearance earlier in the week in the White House press briefing room to talk about how the level of misinformation is now an urgent public health issue.

According to US health officials, a current spike in COVID-19 deaths and illnesses around the country is almost exclusive to people who refuse to get vaccinated for the disease.

“There is a clear message that is coming through: this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” AFP quoted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky as saying on Friday.

While earlier there was a clear divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated along the political lines, as Republicans showed more vaccine hesitancy. But with misinformation and disinformation surrounding the vaccine being constantly repeated in conservative media and on social media channels, many, who are on the border of either ideological spectrum, have been influenced to question the need for a vaccine or oppose it downright.

This has hampered Biden’s attempt to get the country vaccinated. Meanwhile, as the Delta strain spreads across the United States, the number of infections are meant to grow. But vaccines are scientifically proven to be effective against the Delta variant.

Although reports of infections with the Delta variant among fully vaccinated persons in Israel may have worried some, almost all available evidence indicates that the vaccinations are quite effective in protecting against serious disease, hospitalisation, and death from all known coronavirus variants.

But cases have been quickly increasing in areas where fewer than 30% of individuals have been completely vaccinated. 

Biden and his team are trapped infinite loop, where if the vaccination numbers aren’t up, the number of cases wouldn’t climb down and if the number of cases doesn’t climb down, then the country will keep taking a hit economically.