Oct 6, 2020 - Technology

Facebook and Twitter take action against misleading Trump post


Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Facebook on Tuesday removed a post from President Trump in which he falsely claimed that COVID-19 is less deadly "in most populations" than the flu. Twitter labeled the tweet for violating its rules about "spreading misleading and potentially harmful information," but left it up because it may be "in the public's interest."

Why it matters: Facebook has been criticized for not removing posts that violate community guidelines in a timely manner, yet the company sprung to action when Trump posted misinformation about the virus that "could contribute to imminent physical harm." Twitter took action about 30 minutes later.

What they're saying:

  • A Facebook spokesperson told Axios: “We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post."
  • A Twitter spokesperson told Axios: We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy by making misleading health claims about COVID-19. As is standard with this public interest notice, engagements with the Tweet will be significantly limited."

The backdrop: Trump, who is still battling COVID-19 and was hospitalized last week after a drop in his oxygen levels, tweeted, "Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

  • The post echoed similar rhetoric the president had expressed back in March, when he tweeted: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

The bottom line: The coronavirus has now killed over 210,000 Americans. Trump has been criticized for downplaying the severity of the pandemic, which he has continued to do even after his hospitalization and treatment with various experimental drugs.

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