Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

Facebook pulls Trump's posts on coronavirus

WASHINGTON • Facebook has taken down a post by US President Donald Trump, which it said violated its rules against sharing misinformation about the coronavirus.

The post had a video clip, from an interview with Fox & Friends earlier on Wednesday, in which Mr Trump claimed that children are “almost immune” to 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,” a Facebook spokesman said later that day.

A tweet containing the video that was posted by the Trump campaign’s @TeamTrump account and shared by the President was later hidden by Twitter for breaking its Covid-19 misinformation rules.

A Twitter spokesman said the @TeamTrump account owner would need to remove the tweet before they could tweet again.

YouTube, through a spokesman, said it had also pulled down the video for violating its Covid-19 misinformation policies.

But the original interview remains available on the Fox News page on the platform. YouTube did not respond to requests to clarify which videos were taken down.

The Trump campaign accused the companies of bias, saying the President had stated a fact.

Mr Trump said social media companies were unfairly censoring him. He told a radio show yesterday in Cleveland that, “of course” he is being censored.

“They’re doing anybody, on the right, anybody, any Republican, any conservative Republican is censored and look at the horrible things they say on the left,” Mr Trump said.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said that while adults make up most of the known Covid-19 cases to date, some children and infants have been sick with the disease and they can also transmit it to others.

An analysis by the World Health Organisation of six million cases between Feb 24 and July 12 found that the share of children aged five to 14 was about 4.6 per cent.

During a briefing at the White House, Mr Trump repeated his claim that the virus had little impact on children.

“Children handle it very well,” he told reporters. “If you look at the numbers, in terms of mortality, fatalities… for children under a certain age… their immune systems are very, very strong and very powerful. They seem to be able to handle it very well and that’s according to every statistical claim.”

It was the first time Facebook had removed a Trump post for coronavirus misinformation, the company’s spokesman said.

It also appeared to be the first reported instance of the social media company taking down a post from the President for breaching its misinformation rules.

Twitter has taken down a post retweeted by Mr Trump pointing to a misleading viral video about the virus.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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