Twitter, Facebook Delete Trump Posts About Children And Coronavirus

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Social networking giants temporarily restrict the Facebook and Twitter accounts of President Trump over harmful virus claims

US President Donald Trump is once again clashing with social networking firms after they restricted his accounts after controversial claims about Coronavirus.

And surprisingly it was Facebook that acted first, when it deleted a post by Trump – which said children are “almost immune” from the coronavirus. It said the claim contained “harmful Covid misinformation.”

Twitter also acted on Wednesday when it said it had restricted the official election campaign for President Trump from tweeting, after that account shared the same video containing false claims about the coronavirus. The video was then shared from the President’s main account, and was also deleted by Twitter (see here).

Trump claims

The controversial post in question was a video of President Trump’s interview with Fox News in which he said 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,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted by CNN as saying in a statement Wednesday evening.

Stone added the specific comments that had run afoul of Facebook’s rules were Trump’s false claims about children being almost immune to the virus.

Twitter spokesperson meanwhile told CNN that the video “is in violation of the Twitter Rules on Covid-19 misinformation. The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again.”

The video was subsequently deleted, suggesting the campaign had complied with the order and removed the video.

Twitter then confirmed to CNN that the campaign’s account can tweet again.

Courtney Parella, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, reportedly said the President was “stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,” echoing the statement she made after Facebook’s removal of the video.

Parella accused Silicon Valley of being biased against the President and said “social media companies are not the arbiters of truth.”

Social networking

It was in late May when Trump began clashing with social networking firms, namely Twitter.

Twitter placed warning fact-checking labels on a couple of his tweets for the first time in late May, when he made unsubstantiated claims that postal voting would lead to widespread fraud.

Twitter then also hid tweets from Trump and the official White House account when they tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. It hid those tweets saying they were “glorifying violence”.

Twitter also reacted when Trump tweeted about US protesters and he threatened “serious force” against them in the American capital city.

In response Trump signed an executive order against social networking firms, that seeks to “remove or change” a provision of a law known as section 230 that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users.

Facebook on the other hand had until July been reticent to take action against Trump’s posts.

But in July Facebook began to label political posts by President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

It came when President Trump posted an unfounded claim to Facebook (FB) on Tuesday that postal voting could lead to a “corrupt election.” Facebook responded by placing a warning label on it.

However it should be noted that Facebook is not fact-checking political posts. Rather it is directing users to a government website to learn more about how to vote.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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