Facebook and Twitter have sanctioned U.S. President Donald Trump for spreading misinformation on COVID-19 including blocking his campaign from tweeting until it removed an offending post.
Both social media giants acted in response to a video clip posted to both Trump’s Facebook and campaign Twitter accounts where he claims children were “virtually immune” to COVID-19. Trump has been using the phrase recently as part of a drive to reopen schools. But both Facebook and Twitter considered the claim a breach of their guidelines on coronavirus misinformation.
A Facebook spokesperson 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 clip “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,” a Twitter spokesperson told POLITICO in a statement.
The Twitter clip was initially posted by the Trump campaign’s account, but Trump shared it on his personal account as well. By Wednesday evening, the video led to a dead link. Trump’s personal account was not sanctioned for the video.
The Trump campaign rejected Facebook’s characterization of the Wednesday post as misinformation.
“The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,” a Trump campaign spokeswoman, Courtney Parella, said in a statement.
Trump has repeatedly asserted that children should be able to return to schools for in-person instruction, claiming that keeping them at home would be more detrimental to their health than going to school.
During his daily White House coronavirus news briefings, Trump regularly says that children are “virtually immune” from the disease because of the lower death rates among younger people compared with older adults.