WASHINGTON, D.C. – Both the government and “Big Tech” companies such as Google and Facebook have a “role to play” in censoring misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy during an MSNBC interview on Tuesday.
During the interview, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski had inquired about popular podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan, who has been accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation on his Spotify-exclusive “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast and via his Facebook page.
“What do you think are the best ways to push back on misinformation about COVID that continues to be aggressively pushed, whether it be Joe Rogan’s podcast or all over Facebook?” Brzezinski asked.
Murthy said that having “accurate information” being made available to the public is vitally important.
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“We can have the best science available, we can have the best public health expertise available. It won’t help people if they don’t have access to accurate information,” he said. “People have the right to make their own decisions, but they also have the right to have accurate information to make that decision with.”
Social media and other technology companies are the main sources of COVID misinformation, Murthy said, and noted that they have an “important role to play” in censoring alleged health-related falsehoods online.
“This not just about what the government can do,” he said, “This is about companies and individuals recognizing that the only way we get past misinformation is if we are careful about what we say and use the power that we have to limit the spread of misinformation.”
Joe Rogan – whose podcast enjoys an average of 11 million views per episode – in particular has been a target for censorship, especially recently after conducting an interview with virologist Dr. Robert Malone, one of the early developers of mRNA vaccine technology.
Malone has been accused by some of spreading falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines, and after his appearance on the podcast, calls to remove Rogan’s show from Spotify increased dramatically.
Most recently, rock legend Neil Young threatened to remove his music library from the streaming service if they didn’t give Rogan the boot; Spotify refused to budge – citing both their track record of removing blatant misinformation in general and the freedom of speech that they offer their talent – and as a result, Young started removing his library this week.