Facebook and Twitter took decisive action against President Donald Trump on Wednesday for spreading coronavirus misinformation after his official and campaign accounts broke their rules.
The Washington Post reported that Facebook removed a post of a Fox News video clip from Trump’s official account in which the President tells Fox News hosts that children are “almost immune” to coronavirus.
“This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said.
Per the Post, Twitter also said it hid a Team Trump account post featuring the same video, and that the campaign’s account would not be able to tweet again until the message was deleted.
Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley said that the tweet “is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation. The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again.”
Trump’s personal Twitter account had also shared the Fox News interview posted by Team Trump, but it was removed after the original tweet was blocked.
In the video clip, which comes as schools weigh the risks of reopening, President Trump tells Fox News hosts in an interview that schools ought to reopen and that he would “almost say definitely” that children are immune to COVID-19.
But there are more than 240,000 reported coronavirus cases among children in the United States, according to the CDC, and while many have milder symptoms, research shows they are still capable of infecting others.
The move by the social media companies come as Twitter in particular has made it increasingly clear that it will not enable the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus on its platform.
Twitter made headlines in recent months after flagging several of Trump’s tweets for misinformation and “glorifying” violence. The social media company even blocked the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., from tweeting for 12 hours for breaking its coronavirus misinformation rules.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has been slower to adopt measures that might curb the President and his campaign from sharing false information.
Zuckerberg has come under fire for earlier decisions to allow President Trump and others to share misinformation with the potentially harmful consequences arguing that the social media company would not take on a role as “arbiter of truth.”
In late June Zuckerberg finally announced that the company would remove posts that incite violence or attempt to suppress voting , including from political leaders. The company also said it would label posts involving hate speech or that otherwise violate its policies.
The lingering effects and potential impacts of the virus longterm even for those who show mild symptoms, which is often the case for children, remain largely unknown. The Post reported that roughly 300 children have contracted a rare inflammatory disease due to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, and six have died.
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