Facebook and Twitter take action on posts from U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday for violating their rules against coronavirus misinformation.
He suggested that COVID-19 was just like the flu.
Facebook took the post down. But not before it was shared about 26,000 times, data from the company’s metric tool CrowdTangle showed.
“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19,” a company spokesman told Reuters.
The world’s largest social media company exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking programme. They have rarely taken action against posts from the president.
Twitter disabled retweets on a similar tweet from Trump on Tuesday and added a warning label. The label said it broke its rules on “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19”.
Twitter kept it as it might be in the public interest for it to remain accessible.
Donald Trump is back at the White House after three days of hospital treatment having tested positive for the virus.
He tweeted that he had “learned to live with” flu season, “just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”
Twitter hid the same message behind a warning about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information”.
Users have to click past the alert to read the tweet.
“We remove incorrect information about the severity of Covid-19, and have now removed this post,” said Andy Stone, policy communications manager at Facebook.
“An exact mortality rate for Covid-19 is not known, but it is thought to be substantially higher. Even possibly 10 times or more – than most flu strains,” according to Johns Hopkins University.
The President has reacted to the post “REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”
Section 230 is in reference to a law that says social networks are not responsible for the content posted by their users.
Facebook and Twitter have been facing pressure to do more to tackle misinformation both about the pandemic and the US election.
Because of that reason, their decisive action on Trump’s recent post promoting false claims about the severity of coronavirus will be welcomed.
Trump’s comments about the flu – and those yesterday saying “Don’t be afraid of Covid” – have already started to fuel conspiracy theories online.
Hopefully this action from social media sites could reduce the risk of that happening.
As of those who may have already been exposed to this disinformation could be impacted.
All eyes are now on social media sites to see if they keep up this approach to tackling disinformation – coronavirus, political or otherwise – especially from the US Election candidates as polling day nears.