President Trump told Axios’ Jonathan Swan, ‘It’s under control as much as you can control it,’ in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
Facebook took down a post from President Trump’s personal page of a Fox News interview in which he said that children are “almost immune” from COVID-19.
“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 said in a statement.
It was the first time Facebook has removed a post by the president for violating its policies on COVID-19 misinformation.
Twitter also took action late Wednesday.
“The Tweet you referenced 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,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY.
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At issue: a video clip from an interview with Fox & Friends, which aired Wednesday morning, in which Trump said children should return to school because they are “almost immune” or “virtually immune” from the disease.
Doctors say children can catch – and pass on – the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 150,000 lives.
The video was viewed nearly half a million times in the four hours before it was removed from Facebook. A link to Trump’s Facebook post now redirects to a page that says: “This Content Isn’t Available Right Now.”
The takedown comes as Facebook cracks down on false claims about the pandemic. Facebook has removed content shared by the president for violating other policies. In June, Facebook removed ads posted by Trump’s reelection campaign that featured a Nazi symbol. Facebook could not say how many times it has taken down Trump posts.
Last week, Twitter took action against Trump and his son for posts that promoted bogus cures for COVID-19.
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Twitter, which has earned Trump’s ire for fact-checking his tweets, removed a post the President retweeted in which a doctor proclaims, without evidence, that “there is a cure” for the coronavirus.
Twitter also restricted the account of Donald Trump, Jr., after removing a post in which doctors touted the alleged benefits of “hydroxychloroquine” in fighting the coronavirus. The president’s son was blocked from tweeting for 12 hours.
Facebook has drawn fire from the political left and right for its handling of Trump’s posts. Most controversial inside and outside the company was CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up a post in which the president called protesters “thugs” and warned “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” On the other hand, Trump and his supporters have repeatedly claimed censorship due to anti-conservative bias.
Facebook is under growing pressure to moderate content on its platforms. More than 1,000 advertisers have joined a boycott in July organized by civil rights groups. On Wednesday, nearly two dozen state attorneys general sent a letter criticizing Facebook’s handling of hate speech.
Last week Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee, confronted Zuckerberg about the spread of misinformation on the platform. During a hearing on the power and size of the big tech companies, Cicilline noted that it took so long to remove one video that it garnered 20 million in five hours on Facebook.
“Doesn’t that suggest that your platform is so big that even with the right policies in place, you can’t contain deadly content?” Cicilline asked. Zuckerberg responded that Facebook has a “good track record” on policing misinformation.
Last month, Facebook launched Facts About Covid-19, a section of the COVID Information Center dedicated to debunking common myths about the pandemic. Zuckerberg has also interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease official, in livestreams on the Facebook platform.
NBC News first reported the post’s removal.
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