The chief surgeon is looking for disinformation data about Covid from Big Tech

President Biden’s chief surgeon on Thursday formally asked major technology platforms to provide information on the scale of Covid-19 misinformation on social media, search engines, crowdsourcing platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems.

A request for information from the Chief Surgeon’s Office requires technology platforms to send data and analysis on the spread of disinformation about Covid-19 to their sites, starting with common examples of disinformation about vaccines documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

The communication requires companies to provide “exactly how many users have seen or may have been exposed to disinformation about Covid-19”, as well as aggregated demographic data that may have been disproportionately exposed or affected by the misinformation.

Chief Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murtie also requested information from the platforms on the main sources of disinformation about Covid-19, including those involved in the sale of unproven Covid-19 products, services and treatments.

“Technology companies now have the opportunity to be open and transparent with the American people about misinformation on their platforms,” ​​Dr. Murty said in an email statement. He added: “It’s about protecting the nation’s health.”

Companies have until May 2 to submit data. Denial of information requests is not sanctioned, but the notice is the first official request from the Biden administration to technology companies to provide disinformation about Covid-19, according to the chief surgeon’s office.

Six months ago, Dr. Murty used his first official advice to the United States to uncover technology and social media companies he accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation – especially about Covid-19. He called the misinformation “an urgent threat to public health”.

The request for information is part of President Biden’s National Preparedness Plan for Covid, which the White House clarified on Wednesday and is a roadmap for a new phase of the pandemic, where Covid-19 is causing “minimal disruption”, according to the White House. Mr Biden first revealed details of the plan during his speech on the state of the Union on Tuesday night.

In addition to requiring disinformation data from technology platforms, the chief surgeon called on healthcare providers and the public to provide information on how disinformation Covid-19 has negatively affected patients and communities.

“We ask anyone with relevant insights – from original research and data sets to personal stories that talk about the role of misinformation in public health – to share it with us,” said Dr. Murty.