Social media giants pull viral video shared by Trump with false coronavirus claims

A viral video featuring doctors making false and misleading claims about coronavirus that was shared by President Trump was removed by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube this week.

The video, which was published be the right-wing outlet Breitbart News, shows people wearing white lab coats holding a press conference in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The group, which calls itself “America’s Frontline Doctors,” states that “you don’t need masks” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and says studies showing hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for the treatment of the disease are “fake science” and sponsored by “fake pharma companies,” according to CNN.

A physician in the video falsely claims that “hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax” is a cure for coronavirus and says that people do not need to wear masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called on all Americans to wear masks and face coverings in public to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Multiple studies have also found that hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, is not effective at treating COVID-19 and can cause adverse effects, such as heart rhythm irregularities. A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug did not improve outcomes for 667 COVID-19 patients participating in a trial at 55 Brazilian hospitals. 

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration revoked an emergency approval that allowed doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients outside of clinical trials, even though the treatment was unproven.

The video also claims that “we don’t need to be locked down,” according to The Washington Post.

Trump, who has repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine, shared versions of the video on Twitter Monday night. His tweets were later removed from the social media site, as was a version of the video shared by Donald Trump Jr. Twitter has temporarily limited Donald Trump Jr.’s account, blocking his ability to tweet or retweet for 12 hours.

“Twitter suspending Don Jr. for sharing a viral video of medical professionals discussing their views on Hydroxychloroquine is further proof that Big Tech is intent on killing free expression online and is another instance of them committing election interference to stifle Republican voices,” Andy Surabian, a spokesperson for Donald Trump Jr., said in a statement to The Hill.

A Twitter spokesperson told The Hill that tweets with the video “are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy.”

The video went viral on Facebook Monday night, garnering 14 million views before it was removed. It was shared nearly 600,000 times, CNN reported.

“We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” Facebook Policy Communications Director Andy Stone said in a statement to The Hill.

The video was also viewed on YouTube more than 40,000 times before the site removed it.

“We have removed the video for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policies,” a YouTube spokesman told The Hill.

The U.S. has confirmed more than 4.3 millions cases of coronavirus and 148,450 fatalities amid the ongoing pandemic.  

Updated at 11:06 a.m.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 Donald Trump Facebook Google Twitter YouTube

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