- Facebook removed a post from President Donald Trump on Tuesday that falsely claimed COVID-19 was less deadly than the flu, CNN first reported.
- In the post, Trump said COVID-19 was “far less lethal” than the flu in “most populations.” In fact, the US coronavirus death toll in the first nine months of 2020 would already make it the second-deadliest US flu season on record by far.
- The post violated Facebook’s rules on COVID-19 misinformation, which bans false claims about the severity of the virus.
- Trump posted the same message to Twitter, which did not remove the post but instead added a public-interest notice saying the tweet broke its rules on COVID-19 misinformation.
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Facebook removed a post from President Donald Trump on Tuesday that falsely claimed COVID-19 was less deadly than the flu.
Facebook determined that Trump’s post violated its COVID-19 misinformation policies, which ban false and misleading claims about the severity of the novel coronavirus, CNN first reported.
In the post, Trump falsely claimed that COVID-19 was “far less lethal” than the flu in “most populations.” In fact, the US coronavirus death toll in just the first nine months of 2020 had exceeded 200,000, which would make it the second-deadliest US flu season on record by far, behind only the 1918 pandemic — and that’s with a host of lockdown measures and other restrictions that are usually absent but have been implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.
—Donie O’Sullivan (@donie) October 6, 2020
Trump’s post was removed from his page as of 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.
Trump posted the same message to Twitter, which did not remove the post but instead added a notice saying it violated Twitter’s rules against COVID-19 misinformation. A Twitter representative told Business Insider that engagements with the tweet like replies and retweets had been “significantly limited” in line with Twitter’s public-interest notice policy.
While Facebook has previously added warning labels to Trump’s posts containing misinformation, it rarely removes the posts entirely. It most recently took the extraordinary step of deleting a Trump post in August, when the president shared a video of an interview in which he falsely claimed children were “almost immune” to the coronavirus.
Trump has reacted with anger to previous actions by Facebook and Twitter to remove or label his false posts, claiming that the moderation is evidence of anti-conservative bias. At Trump’s direction, the Department of Justice has proposed changes to Section 230, a law that sheilds social media platforms from being held liable for the content of users’ posts as long as they remove illegal content.
After his posts about the flu were removed by Facebook and labeled by Twitter on Tuesday, Trump once again took aim at Section 230, calling for it to be repealed.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
If Section 230 were repealed in full, social media companies would have to assume far greater liability for the content of users posts. That means it would be more legally and financially risky to host politicians’ accounts, and Trump himself could be barred from the platforms if Section 230 were to vanish.