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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

DC Attorney General Karl Racine has subpoenaed Facebook for documents and data to determine whether the company has kept its word about reducing vaccine misinformation on its platform, his office revealed Thursday.

Why it matters: Research has indicated that exposure to online COVID-19 misinformation can make Americans less willing to be vaccinated.

Driving the news: As part of a consumer protection investigation into Facebook, Racine's office subpoenaed the company in June seeking:

  • A Facebook study about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among users revealed in a Washington Post story in March.
  • Documents identifying Facebook groups, pages and accounts that have violated the company's COVID-19 misinformation policy related to vaccines.
  • The total volume of content that has been removed or demoted by Facebook for violating the vaccine misinformation policy.
  • Details on the resources Facebook is devoting to combatting vaccine misinformation, including identifying the volume of content awaiting a fact checking review for vaccine misinformation.

What they're saying: “Facebook has said it’s taking action to address the proliferation of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on its site," a spokesperson with the DC AG's office said in a statement. "But then when pressed to show its work, Facebook refused."

  • "AG Racine’s investigation aims to make sure Facebook is truly taking all steps possible to minimize vaccine misinformation on its site and support public health.”

Flashback: Facebook said in February it would take tougher action against pandemic misinformation, including claims that the COVID-19 vaccine is not effective or safe.

  • In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: "We’ve connected over 2 billion people to resources from health authorities, including through our COVID-19 Information Center. We've removed more than 18 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram that violate our COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation policies, and labeled more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content rated false by our network of fact checking partners."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Facebook.

Go deeper

White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss COVID vaccine

Rapper Nicki Minaj is seen leaving the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12, 2020, in New York City. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Nicki Minaj questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine this week on Twitter, prompting an offer from the White House for a call with a doctor to discuss the safety of the vaccine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Thursday.

Driving the news: Minaj on Monday wrote on Twitter that she would not attend the Met Gala because she had not received the COVID vaccine, which was a requirement to attend the event.

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

CDC: Moderna vaccine most effective against hospitalization in U.S.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Overall healthy adults with the Moderna COVID vaccine had 93% vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization over five months compared to those with 88% protection with Pfizer and 71% from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new report out Friday from the CDC shows.

Why it matters: The report comes as the Food and Drug Administrations meets Friday to consider whether to endorse a contentious plan for booster shots among the fully vaccinated.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.