The video was a clip from an appearance on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, during which the president said, “If you look at children, children are almost – and I would almost say definitely – almost immune from this disease.” Trump added, “They’ve got much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this. And they don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.”
Facebook removed the clip, stating that it “includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Trump’s comments were also censored on Twitter after an account for his re-election campaign, @TeamTrump, posted the video. “The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
But at least Facebook is finally treating the president’s content with the scrutiny it deserves. The platform has been under fire in recent months for allowing Trump to repeatedly post harmful and misleading content without consequence. Zuckerberg earlier this year argued that Facebook should not be an “arbiter of truth” of what people post online, even when one of the most powerful people in the world shares content that is actively harmful.
And that’s not the last time Facebook defended the president’s right to post. In May, when Trump threatened racial justice activists during uprisings following the police killing of George Floyd, Facebook said Trump’s statement was a warning rather than a threat because it came from a state actor. The post quoted a racist 1960s Miami police chief who said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
It’s great that Facebook is finally stepping up to limit some of the falsehoods perpetuated by the U.S. president. But as Lisa Kaplan, founder of the disinformation-tracking firm Alethea Group told The Daily Beast, “At this point I give them a participation trophy and not applause.”