(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and Twitter took action on posts from US President Donald Trump on Tuesday for violating their rules against coronavirus misinformation by suggesting 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, which exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program, has rarely taken action against posts from the president.
Twitter disabled retweets on a similar tweet from Trump on Tuesday and added a warning label that said it broke its rules on “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19” but that it might be in the public interest for it to remain accessible.
During the 2019-2020 influenza season, the flu was associated with 22,000 deaths in the United States, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
Since the first case of coronavirus was recorded in the United States at the beginning of this year, more than 210,000 people in the country have died, the world’s highest death toll.
On Monday, Trump told Americans “to get out there” and not fear COVID-19 as he returned to the White House after a three-night stay in the hospital where he was treated for a coronavirus infection.
Twitter, which has been using labels to flag tweets with misinformation – including from the president – told Reuters it is currently trying to respond more quickly and more overtly.
Facebook removed a Trump post for coronavirus misinformation for the first time in August. The post included a video in which the president falsely claimed that children were “almost immune” to COVID-19.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England, Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sonya Hepinstall)
Editor’s Note: Perhaps Mr Trump should have looked at something like this.