Facebook, Twitter scrub false virus “cure” video shared by Trump
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have taken down a video spreading false information about a coronavirus “cure” that was shared by President Trump. The clip was viewed millions of times before it was scrubbed from the social media platforms.
The video published by right-wing website Breitbart shows a news conference in front of the Supreme Court steps with South Carolina Republican Rep. Ralph Norman and several people claiming to be doctors who have worked with COVID-19 patients. Dr. Stella Immanuel, one member of the group calling itself “America’s Frontline Doctors,” said hydroxychloroquine, a drug that was touted by Mr. Trump, is a “cure” for coronavirus.
“This virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” she said. “You don’t need masks, there is a cure.”
Masks have been shown to be an effective way of reducing the transmission of the coronavirus, and as recently as last week, Mr. Trump encouraged people to wear them. Results published in early June showed hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. The FDA also determined the drug is unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19. In an interview with “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that the drug is “not effective.”
Regardless, Mr. Trump shared the video to 28 million users who have “liked” his page on Facebook and his 84 million followers on Twitter. Both platforms deleted the video.
“We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” a Facebook company spokesperson told CBS News. Facebook also said, “People who reacted to, commented on, or shared this video, will see messages directing them to authoritative information about the virus.”
The tweets were flagged and removed on Twitter. A spokesperson told CBS News that Mr. Trump’s tweets were a “violation” of its COVID-19 misinformation policy.
A copy of the video was also uploaded to YouTube before that site took it down. “We have removed the video for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policies.” a YouTube spokesperson told CBS News.
Mr. Trump also retweeted a podcast featuring former White House strategist Steve Bannon that claimed Fauci was misleading the American public on the drug. That tweet has not been taken down.
Asked about the disputed video at his White House briefing Tuesday, Mr. Trump said: “There was a group of doctors yesterday, a large group that were put on the internet, and for some reason the internet wanted to take them down. And took them off. I guess Twitter took them off, and I think Facebook took them off. I don’t know why. I think they’re very respected doctors. There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it and she’s had tremendous success with it.”
Another reporter pointed out, “The woman you said is a great doctor said masks don’t work and there’s a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true. She’s also made videos saying doctors make vaccines from DNA from aliens and that they’re trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious…”
The president replied, “I can tell you this — she was on air, along with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine. And I thought she was very impressive in the sense that, from where she came, I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice. But I know nothing about her.”
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also shared the fake cure video. His Twitter account was temporarily suspended.
“Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
Andy Surabian, a spokesman for Donald Trump Jr., responded, “Twitter suspending Don Jr. for sharing a viral video of medical professionals discussing their views on Hydroxychloroquine is further proof that Big Tech is intent on killing free expression online and is another instance of them committing election interference to stifle Republican voices.”
Similar to the conspiracy documentary-style video, “Plandemic,” the clip has resurfaced on different websites and other social media platforms, illustrating the ongoing battle with misinformation.