Facebook plans COVID vaccine push to win over Biden: report

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Facebook is planning to encourage users to get vaccinated for coronavirus in an effort to win over Joe Biden’s incoming administration, a new report says.

The social network is considering placing a banner at the top of its news feed encouraging users to take a COVID-19 vaccine once regulators approve one, according to the Financial Times.

The move is meant to align Facebook with Biden’s priorities and curry favor with the president-elect’s administration amid criticism of the tech titan’s missteps in combating misinformation, the paper reported Monday.

The “charm offensive” Facebook is crafting would also expand its efforts to tackle misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and promote content related to the landmark Paris climate agreement, which Biden has pledged to rejoin following President Trump’s withdrawal from it, the FT says.

But efforts to promote a vaccine could spark criticism given public skepticism about its safety, the paper noted. About half of Americans surveyed in September said they would not take a vaccine if it were available, according to the Pew Research Center.

Biden’s victory over Trump in this month’s election has further raised the prospect of increased regulation for Facebook, which is already facing a Federal Trade Commission probe focused on its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Biden campaign spokesman Bill Russo offered a hint of the incoming administration’s aggressive stance toward Facebook in a Twitter thread ripping the company for letting misinformation and calls to violence flourish after Election Day.

But Facebook is hoping that its vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, will help put the company on friendlier terms with the White House, according to the Financial Times. Clegg reportedly had a good relationship with then-Vice President Biden when he was a deputy prime minister in the UK.

Facebook declined to comment Monday. The company’s stock price was down about 0.4 percent at $268.70 as of 2:40 p.m.

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