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Facebook removes Trump post over coronavirus misinformation

Facebook has removed a post from President Donald Trump’s Facebook page after concluding that it contained false claims about the effect of COVID-19 on children.

The post, which appeared on the account on Wednesday, August 5, included part of a Fox News phone interview with the president in which he said that children are “almost immune” to the virus.

After evaluating the content, Facebook took it down, replacing it with a message that said simply: “This content isn’t available right now.”

In response to inquiries asking why the post had been removed, a spokesperson for the company 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.” In other words, children can catch the virus, though research is still being carried out to determine how likely they are to spread it.

While it’s true that children who contract the coronavirus are far less likely to develop serious symptoms compared to adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website says that “a few children have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.” A small number of deaths have been reported among children who contracted the virus.

Trump’s comments come amid controversy about when and how to reopen schools across the U.S. In the interview, the president said that “schools should reopen,” adding that the pandemic “will go away like things go away.”

It’s the first time Facebook has removed a message related to the pandemic from Trump’s account. The social media giant has been criticized for not doing enough to curb misinformation on its platform.

In a House Judiciary antitrust hearing last week, lawmakers slammed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for letting viral misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the coronavirus appear on the platform, with Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) accusing Zuckerberg of profiting from the “deadly content.” Zuckerberg later said that 90% of harmful and hateful content is taken down by Facebook’s artificial intelligence before someone reports it.

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