Marking a big moment for the social media company, Facebook deleted Donald Trump's post about coronavirus on Wednesday, Aug. 5, to prevent the spread of misinformation. As cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, reach an all-time high in some states during the pandemic, social media platforms are tightening the rules. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have implemented coronavirus misinformation policies to prevent the spread of false information, and apparently President Trump's recent post fell into that category.
Facebook's recent action on Trump's post was due to the platform's coronavirus misinformation policy, per the Associated Press. The post in question was a link to a Wednesday, Aug. 5 Fox News video in which President Trump told Fox and Friends hosts during a phone interview that children are “virtually immune” to the novel coronavirus, without any supporting evidence. In an Aug. 5 statement, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said the video was deleted because it included "false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation," according to CNN. Elite Daily reached out to both Facebook and the White House for additional comment, but did not immediately hear back.
The claim that children are "virtually immune" to the virus has not been proven. As recently as July 18, studies have shown that children as young as 10 years old are as vulnerable to the virus as adults. An April 10 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested children are less likely to be hospitalized due to a COVID-19 infection (about one in five), but since so much is still unknown about the novel coronavirus, the findings aren't complete. As of July 21, the CDC also asserts that asymptomatic spread is a possibility, so the idea that children can spread COVID-19 to adults is still a concern. The CDC advises children to have limited contact with older adults who are high-risk.
Following Facebook's removal of Trump's post, Twitter also temporarily blocked the Trump campaign's official Twitter account from posting, citing its coronavirus misinformation policy, according to CNN. The block lasted until @TeamTrump removed the video post late on Wednesday, Aug. 5. President Trump also retweeted a link to the Trump campaign's tweet of video, and Trump's tweet with the link to the now-deleted campaign tweet is still up as of publication on Thursday, Aug. 6. A Twitter spokesperson confirms to Elite Daily the Trump campaign tweet of the video was "in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation," and it needed to be removed before they could tweet again. According to Twitter, the claim from Trump in the Fox News video is covered in the company's COVID-19 misinformation policy, which states it will remove tweets which include the following: "Denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as 'COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick.'"
Wednesday's action isn't the first time Trump's social media messages have come under fire, but it marks a shift from Facebook. Back on May 29, Trump shared a Facebook post which many saw as threatening violence against protestors in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police on Memorial Day. He posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram saying, in part, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," a reference to a quote generally attributed to 1960s Miami police Chief Walter Headley, who was himself accused of bigotry and exacerbating violence. Trump denied the quote was meant to incite violence, but Twitter flagged the tweet as promoting violence, though it did not delete the tweet, per The Verge. Facebook chose to allow the post to stay up. CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on the decision in a May 29 statement shared to his Facebook page, in which he said Facebook's "position" was to "enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”
Following the incident, Facebook announced on Friday, June 26, the platform would flag posts which spread misinformation with a label, rather than removing them from the site.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.