Facebook has removed a post by Donald Trump about the coronavirus in which the president claimed that the disease is "in most populations far less lethal" than the flu. Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said the company removed Trump’s post because it violated the social media giant’s rules on COVID-19 misinformation.
In the now-deleted post, the president called on the US public to learn to live with the coronavirus.
"Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal", Trump wrote in his post.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the biggest death toll from the flu was recorded in the period between 2017 and 2018, when 61,000 Americans succumbed to the disease.
The message was cross-posted to Twitter, which decided to keep it, but hid the tweet and placed the following message over it:
"This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible".
After clicking on the message, the tweet became available.
This is not the first time that the president’s posts and those of his supporters and inner circle have been flagged or deleted. In May, Twitter hid Trump’s message when the president commented on the riots and looting that occurred during protests against racial discrimination and police brutality, which were sparked by the death of George Floyd. Back then, Trump warned that when "the looting starts, the shooting starts". Twitter said it hid the post because it was deemed to incite violence.
In August, Facebook and Twitter removed a post in which the president claimed that children are "almost immune" to the virus. Previous studies have suggested that the coronavirus has a lower fatality rate than the flu among children, but showed that they are not immune to the disease. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association said more than 620,000 children have contracted the disease in the United States since the outbreak began.
Trump has repeatedly criticised big tech companies for silencing conservative voices and accused them of bias against them. In May, the 74-year-old even warned that he could "strongly regulate" or even close down some platforms.