Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg Reuters

With the coronavirus epidemic still spreading rapidly in many parts of the world, governments are seeking to boost vaccination rates and detract from the arguments made by those who are “vaccine-hesitant.” According to several recent studies, people who use Facebook as their primary source of information are statistically less likely to opt for the coronavirus vaccine, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied that his platform is the culprit.

“If you look around the world at different countries … the U.S. has a specific issue on this,” he told CBS this week. “People use Facebook and social media all across the world so if this was primarily a question about social media, then I think you would see that being the effect in all of these countries where people use it.”

Facebook has over 2.8 billion users across the globe, and Zuckerberg pointed out that vaccination rates vary widely among countries, regardless of social media usage. A recent study conducted by Morning Consult revealed that Russia leads the world in vaccine hesitancy, with 27% of the population unwilling to get the Covid-19 vaccine shot. In the United States, the figure was 17%, followed by Germany with 13%, France with 11%, and Australia with 9% of the population unwilling to be vaccinated.

“I think there’s something that's unique in our ecosystem here—whether it's some of the political leaders or some of the media figures—that I think is different than what we're seeing across a lot Europe or across a lot of other countries that are leading to higher levels of this,” Zuckerberg told CBS. “I don't think pinning this on social media primarily is accurate.”

Last month, US President Joe Biden accused “platforms like Facebook” of “killing people,” adding that “the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.” Facebook hit back, denying that it freely hosts anti-vaccination posts and adding that it has removed over 20 million pieces of “misinformation” since the start of the pandemic.