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Facebook and Twitter remove Trump posts over coronavirus misinformation

Facebook removed a video post from President Donald Trump’s personal page Wednesday that included a segment from a Fox News interview in which he falsely said children are “almost immune” to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“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,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook policy spokesperson.

Twitter also removed the video from its platform on Wednesday night after it was tweeted by the Trump campaign, saying the video was “in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation.”

In the interview, which aired Wednesday morning, Trump said children should return to school because they are “almost immune” or “virtually immune” to the disease. While they are less vulnerable, children can, in fact, transmit the disease to others, and some children have died from it.

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The action, the first time Facebook has removed a Trump post for COVID-19 misinformation, marks a rare instance in which it has been willing to censor the president. In June, Facebook removed ads that the Trump campaign posted that featured a symbol Nazis used to classify political prisoners during World War II.

A link to the post now diverts to a page that says, “This Content Isn’t Available Right Now.”

The Trump campaign accused Facebook of “flagrant bias.”

“The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,” Courtney Parella, the campaign’s deputy national press secretary, said in an emailed statement. “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.”

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Facebook has been closely scrutinized by critics on both the left and the right for its handling of Trump’s posts. Its refusal to take action on posts in which the president appeared to call for violence against protestors sparked outrage among progressives and helped inspire civil rights groups to organize an advertising boycott against it.

At the same time, Trump’s supporters have frequently complained — with little evidence — that Facebook and other social media companies like Twitter and YouTube harbor a liberal bias and unfairly censor conservatives. Several Republican lawmakers made such complaints to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a high-profile tech antitrust hearing last month.




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