Updated Aug 5, 2020 - Technology

Facebook, Twitter take down Trump post saying kids are immune to coronavirus

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facebook removed a video post from President Trump Wednesday in which he claimed in an interview with Fox News that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

Why it matters: It’s the first time that Facebook has removed content from Trump's account for violating policies on coronavirus-related misinformation.

The latest: Twitter took down the same Trump video post later on Wednesday evening.

  • Trump's tweet that included the video was resharing a post from @TeamTrump, the official account for the president's re-election campaign.
  • A Twitter spokesperson told Axios the original tweet from the campaign was "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."
  • That policy temporarily locked out the @TeamTrump account from tweeting and briefly stirred confusion in the press and on social media Wednesday night that Twitter had frozen the account of Trump himself.

Be smart: In the last couple of weeks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown a greater willingness to disagree with Trump. Facebook is often criticized for kowtowing to Republicans and arguing for free speech when people are upset by its content policies.

  • In an earnings call last week, Zuckerberg criticized the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying it could have been handled better, and adding there is "no end in sight" to working from home for employees.
  • Zuckerberg also hosted a Facebook Live with NIAID director Anthony Fauci amid the disease expert's increasingly icy relationship with the White House.

What they're saying: "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 spokesperson Andy Stone told Axios.

  • “Another day, another display of Silicon Valley’s flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction. Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth,” said Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign.
Children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease... They have stronger immune systems than we do, somehow, for this, and they don't have a problem. They just don't have a problem.
— President Trump, in the video

Reality check: A growing body of evidence suggests children can easily contract and spread the virus.

  • They do appear significantly less likely to become ill from the virus, though it's also been linked to a serious inflammatory syndrome.

Between the lines: Facebook hasn't hesitated to go after world leaders before, recently taking down COVID-19 content posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

The bottom line: It looks like this is another instance of Facebook being more forceful in applying its COVID-19 misinformation policies, against the president in particular.

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