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Facebook contests Biden's claim that misinformation on the platform is "killing people"

Facebook fired back on Friday evening after President Biden earlier said that social media platforms are "killing people" by allowing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on their sites.

What they're saying: "We will not be distracted by accusations which aren't supported by the facts," a spokesperson for the tech giant said in a statement Friday.


The Facebook response followed Biden's commentary on the South Lawn of the White House, during which he said: "...the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people."

  • "The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet," Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said in response, ABC News reports.
  • "More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine," the company added. "The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period."

The big picture: The Biden administration has recently increased its attacks on Facebook, and the company has been under fire for COVID-related misinformation for months.

  • "We’re dealing with a life or death issue here and so everybody has a role to play in making sure there’s accurate information," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier on Friday. "They’re a private sector company. They’re going to make decisions about additional steps they can take. It’s clear there are more that can be taken."
  • Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on social media companies Thursday to curb misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines in his first health advisory since being confirmed to the position.
  • Murthy said vaccine misinformation is a factor in the country's slowing vaccination rates. More than 40% of American adults are not fully vaccinated against the virus, and new cases have slightly increased in part because of the rise of the Delta variant.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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