Facebook removed a post in which President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the novel coronavirus was less deadly than the common flu. Trump wrote on Facebook and Twitter today that in the coming flu season, America “has learned to live with them” “just as we are learning to live with COVID-19” – which, as Trump falsely claimed, “is across most populations far less is fatal !!! "Facebook confirmed to CNN that the post was removed for violating the rules of COVID-19 misinformation.
Twitter didn't remove a tweet with the same message, but added a warning label and restricted interaction with the post.
As CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan tweeted, Facebook has pledged to remove COVID-19 misinformation that "may contribute to imminent physical harm". This includes false claims about "the location and severity" of COVID-19 outbreaks. We don't know the exact death rate from the novel coronavirus, but there is substantial evidence that it is more deadly than the flu, and it is almost certainly not "far less fatal", even for lower risk populations. Trump also claimed that "sometimes over 100,000" people die from the flu each year, while the actual number has ranged from 24,000 to 62,000 American deaths in recent years. COVID-19 has killed over 210,000 Americans since March.
Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week and spent the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before being released yesterday. He announced his departure by downplaying the severity of the virus. More broadly, a recent study suggests Trump was a major driver of what misinformation experts have called COVID-19 "infodemic" – a collection of false claims about the effects of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines, wearing masks and social problems distancing and other measures.