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Twitter and Facebook take action on COVID-19 misinformation from Trump accounts

President Trump
President Trump arrives for a news conference at the White House on Wednesday. His social media posts claiming that children are “virtually immune” to COVID-19 ran afoul of Twitter and Facebook policies against misinformation on the coronavirus.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Facebook removed a post from President Trump’s page on its social network for violating the company’s policy on coronavirus misinformation. And Twitter briefly blocked Trump’s campaign account, @teamtrump, from posting on its social network for violating its policy with the post.

Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, had retweeted a post of a video that included an interview Trump did Wednesday with Fox News in which he said children are “virtually immune” from getting COVID-19. “They don’t have a problem, they just don’t have a problem,” Trump added, as part of an argument for why schools should reopen. “It doesn’t have an impact on them. I’ve watched some doctors say they’re totally immune.”

Twitter said the @teamtrump account was prohibited from posting until the clip was removed. No action was taken on the president’s own account. The @teamtrump account resumed posting Wednesday evening and the video clip appeared to have been taken down.

“The original Tweet from @TeamTrump is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation, and we’ve required removal,” according to a post from Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio.

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Facebook for months has said it would prioritize removing COVID-19 misinformation that could cause people harm. “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,” spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement.

In Central Valley and other conservative parts of California, small but significant numbers of Republican voters have turned against Trump.

Facebook has been criticized in recent months by those who say the company has failed to enforce its information policies against Trump. A third-party auditor said last month that Facebook didn’t follow its policies regarding voter suppression in not acting against the president’s post in late May that included misleading information about mail-in voting.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that fighting misinformation on COVID-19 is easier than on other topics because the company has reliable sources to help determine what is true, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

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“Children and adolescents are just as likely to become infected as any other age group and can spread the disease,” according to the World Health Organization website. The CDC says that although children don’t appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults, there are some children who have contracted the virus, and it recommends they follow the same social distancing guidelines as adults.


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