President Trump speaking at a Coronavirus Task Force news briefing on July 22. PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Facebook, Twitter Take Down Video of Trump Saying Children ‘Almost Immune’ From Covid-19
| le 6 August 2020
Action is first time Facebook has removed a post from the president for violating its coronavirus misinformation policy
By Deepa Seetharaman – The Wall Street Journal
Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday removed a video posted by President Trump in which he said children are “almost immune from this disease,” a claim that the companies said ran afoul their rules against harmful misinformation about Covid-19.
The video clip—a portion of an interview aired on Fox News—attracted roughly 450,000 views on Facebook before it was taken down, according to CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics company. It also drew thousands of comments and was reshared nearly 2,000 times.
The action marked the first time that Facebook removed Mr. Trump’s posts for violating its coronavirus misinformation rules, a Facebook spokesman said. “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,” the spokesman said.
The same video was also shared by the Trump campaign’s account on Twitter and then reshared by Mr. Trump. Wednesday evening, Twitter said it removed the video for violating its rules against coronavirus misinformation and that the @TeamTrump account would have to remove the post before it could tweet again.
“The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Courtney Parella. “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.”
While complications and deaths from Covid-19 are relatively rare among young people, children aren’t immune from the virus. Older students, largely teens, are believed to be at greater risk than younger children.
Facebook has removed a handful of other posts by Mr. Trump, but the company has largely taken a hands-off approach to the president’s messages as part of policies set by Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg not to interfere with political speech. He has separately been critical of the U.S. government’s handling of the pandemic.
In June, Facebook removed posts and ads from the Trump campaign that showed an inverted red triangle once used by the Nazis to tag political rivals.
Those posts violated Facebook’s rules against hate, the company said at the time. The Trump campaign responded by saying the sign was used by antifa, a loosely organized activist movement, short for “antifascist,” but some experts say the inverted red triangle hasn’t been widely adopted by the movement.
Around that time, Facebook and Twitter removed another Trump video showing a black toddler running away from a white toddler with a fake CNN headline stating “Terrified Toddler Runs From Racist Baby.” The video then falsely claimed that CNN manufactured the story. In reality, the news network presented the video as a lighthearted tale of friendship.
Both companies removed the post after receiving copyright complaints from one of the children’s parents.