Facebook and Twitter remove video of Trump falsely claiming children are “almost immune” to the coronavirus

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FILE – This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today. Those are the words President Donald Trump challenged in an executive order Thursday, May 28, 2020 one that would strip those protections if those companies engaged in “editorial decisions” — like, for instance, adding a fact-check warning to one of Trump’s tweets. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Facebook and Twitter announced Wednesday that they have removed a video of President Trump shared on his Facebook page and Twitter account because it contained “false claims” about the coronavirus. The video was a clip of a phone interview Mr. Trump did with Fox News on Wednesday morning in which he pushed for schools to reopen for in-person learning and falsely claimed children are “almost immune” to the virus.

“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,” a spokesperson for Facebook said.

A Twitter spokesperson also confirmed the video “is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation,” and added that @TeamTrump, the official Twitter account for Mr. Trump’s campaign, would not be able to tweet again until they delete the tweet with the video.

In the clip, which was tweeted by the Trump campaign and shared on Mr. Trump’s personal Twitter account, the president repeated his demand that schools reopen in the fall.

“If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” Mr. Trump said. 

recent study from South Korea suggests that children between the ages of 0 and 9 may spread the disease to a lesser degree than adults. But the study showed children aged 10-19 can spread the coronavirus at least as well as adults can. 

The same study also stressed in its conclusion that “The low detection rate for household contacts of preschool-aged children in South Korea might be attributable to social distancing during these periods. Yet, a recent report from Shenzhen, China, showed that the proportion of infected children increased during the outbreak from 2% to 13%, suggesting the importance of school closure.”

Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Courtney Parella in a statement called the removal of the video, “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,” she added.

This is not the first time Facebook, which has received criticism in the past for allowing videos and articles with false information to remain on its site, has removed a video shared by Mr. Trump. In June, Trump campaign ads were removed for featuring an upside-down red triangle, a symbol resembling one once used by Nazis to identify political prisoners such as communists, socialists, anarchists and liberals in concentration camps. 

“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” a Facebook spokesperson said at the time. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”

Facebook, along with Twitter and YouTube, also recently removed a video shared by Mr. Trump that showed a doctor who falsely claimed that face masks do not work and that the “cure” for COVID-19 is hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax. That video was originally published by right-wing website Breitbart.

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