Facebook removes Trump video for spreading harmful coronavirus misinformation


Facebook’s rules against coronavirus misinformation also apply to politicians.

Image by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Facebook on Wednesday pulled down a video from President Donald Trump’s page that included footage from a Fox News interview in which Trump says children are “almost immune” to the novel coronavirus and have “much stronger immune systems.”

“Children are almost, and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease,” Trump said in the video while he pushes for the reopening of schools this fall. The video is still on Twitter where it has more than 854,000 views. On Facebook, it says that “the content isn’t available right now.”

Children have been sick with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, even though adults make up most of the cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Facebook and Twitter both have rules against coronavirus information that could lead to harm such as claiming a certain group are immune or promoting unproven cures such as drinking bleach. Facebook has been under fire for not sending posts from politicians to fact checkers. Politicians, though, aren’t exempted from the social network’s rules against coronavirus misinformation. 

“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 in a statement about the removed Trump video.

Twitter has labeled some of Trump’s tweets that include misinformation about mail-in ballots. The company, though, takes a tougher stance against coronavirus misinformation. In order for a tweet to get pulled down for that reason, it has to be “an assertion of fact (not an opinion), expressed definitively, and intended to influence others’ behavior,” according to the company

The White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter didn’t immediately have a comment. 

Facebook and Twitter have removed harmful coronavirus misinformation posted by politicians before. In March, the company and Twitter pulled down videos by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro for making the false claim that anti-malaria drug hydroxycholoroquine is an effective treatment everywhere. At the time, clinical trials still needed to be conducted.

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