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Vaccine misinformation "aided and abetted" by social media, Murthy says

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday that COVID-19 vaccine misinformation is "aided and abetted" by social media platforms, further reinforcing the Biden administration's position.

Why it matters: Facebook and the White House have been engaging in an ongoing back-and-forth that was amplified Friday when President Biden said that social media platforms are "killing people" by allowing vaccine misinformation on their sites.


  • "[T]he only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people," the president said on Friday.
  • Facebook released a statement disputing the president's remarks, saying the accusations were "not supported by the facts." The social media giant doubled-down on Saturday with an additional statement saying, in part: "'We have been doing our part."

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.

What he's saying: "This is about the health of Americans and the reality is that misinformation is still spreading like wildfire in our country, aided and abetted by technology platforms," Murthy said on "Fox News Sunday."

  • “I'm asking these companies to step up and take responsibility for what's happening on their side. I'm asking them to look out for the people across this country who — whose lives depend on having access to accurate information," he added.

Go deeper: Facebook contests Biden's misinformation claim

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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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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

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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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

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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