DONALD Trump's press team accused Facebook and Twitter of "flagrant bias" after they removed a video he posted saying kids are "immune" from the coronavirus.
His press team then doubled down on the claim, saying the president was simply "stating a fact".
"The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus," said Courtney Parella, the campaign's deputy national press secretary, in an email.
"Another day, another display of Silicon Valley's flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction," her statement continued. "Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth."
The President had shared a video of his interview on Fox News claiming children were less susceptible to the coronavirus due to their stronger immune systems.
“If you look at children, children are almost, and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease,” Trump said in the phone interview that aired on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning.
“They’ve got stronger–hard to believe I don’t know how you feel about it," Trump said as he pieced together the sentence. "But they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this, and they do it, they don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.”
The president pointed to children's supposed immunity as he argued in favor of schools reopening in the fall. “My view is the schools should open,” Trump said, despite his own son Barron Trump's elite private school opting for an entirely online or hybrid model.
“This thing is going away. It will go away like things go away, and my view is that schools should be open.”
Both social media giants Twitter and Facebook removed the video, claiming it violated their COVID-19 misinformation policy. This marks the first time Facebook removed a Trump video.
"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," said Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook.
A Twitter spokesperson followed suit, Twitter has banned the Trump campaign account from tweeting until it removes the tweet. "The @TeamTrump Tweet… is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation. The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again."
The Fox interview was viewed close to 500,000 times in four hours before it was removed from Facebook. Trump's Facebook post now redirects to a link that reads "This Content Isn't Available Right Now."
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias praised the tech companies for their swift action, particularly calling out Facebook for its inaction in the past.
"Facebook has been too lenient with Trump, particularly when the falsehood involves public health and children. A stricter stance could have important consequences as the election season heats up," said Tobias. "I think Twitter’s action may be even more important because it seems to be Trump’s favorite way to communicate. Having two big players in the social media space may embolden others to crack down on the false information."
Twitter has been vocal in removing Trump's own vocal tweets from its platform. It recently restricted Donald Trump Jr.'s account after he tweeted a video of doctors touting hydroxychloroquine as the cure to COVID-19.
This isn't the first time, however, that Facebook has removed Trump-related content. In June, the company removed ads from the campaign that promoted "organized hate."
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