The removed video post from Trump’s official Facebook page contained his early Wednesday morning interview segment with Fox & Friends where he continued his push for schools to be reopened in the fall, stated “children are almost immune” from the coronavirus.
“My view is that schools should be open,” Trump said. “If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease. Hard to believe. I don’t know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do, somehow, for this. And they don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) daily reported cases and deaths breakdown data of age, race, and ethnicity show children between the ages of 5-17 account for less than 6% or about 200,000 of the 3.5 million confirmed cases. On data of the 120,000 reported coronavirus related deaths, children in the same age group account for less than 0.1%
Facebook issued a statement after taking down the post saying the video contains “false claims” about the virus which is a “violation” of its policies regarding “harmful COVID misinformation.”
“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 Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
However, in March Twitter didn’t remove a tweet by Tesla founder Elon Musk where he suggested children are “essentially immune” to the coronavirus, despite just days before the tweet pledged to remove misinformation and tweets on the coronavirus. When asked about Musk tweet, a Twitter spokesperson said it did not break its rules when read in the context of the tweet.
Kids are essentially immune, but elderly with existing conditions are vulnerable. Family gatherings with close contact between kids & grandparents probably most risky.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
Courtney Parella, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign said the President was “stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,” and accused the Silicon Valley of displaying “flagrant bias” against Trump.
“The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus,” Parella said in a statement. “Another day, 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.”
This marks the first time Facebook has removed any content posted by the president’s on his page regarding COVID-19, but not the first time it has taken some action towards Trump’s campaign post. In June, Facebook removed an advertisement paid for the Trump campaign that apparently featured a symbol once used by the Nazi, saying the ad goes against their policy against “organized hate.”
“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” Facebook said in a statement in June. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”
Last year, Facebook pulled a campaign ad promoting The Women for Trump Coalition, citing the ad violated a policy that prohibits “content that asserts or implies personal attributes,” including, among other things, “direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s … gender identity.”
The Fox & Friends interview clip was viewed nearly half a million times within the four hours time span before it was taken down by Facebook. A link to the post now diverts to a page that says, “This Content Isn’t Available Right Now.”
Twitter shortly after followed suit and removed the same video clip the Trump campaign’s (@teamtrump) Twitter account posted and retweeted by the President. A Twitter spokesperson said the tweet was in “violation of its rules on coronavirus misinformation. Over the last few months, Twitter has added fact-checking and warning labels to the president’s tweets and banned political advertising altogether.
Last week, Twitter temporarily suspended Trump’s son, Donald Jr, for sharing a video it said promoted “misinformation” about doctors touting hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. The president’s son was blocked from tweeting for 12 hours.