Facebook, Twitter bar video of Brazilian president endorsing unproven antiviral drug

Facebook and Twitter said Monday they had ordered the removal of a video in which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro incorrectly said that a drug against the coronavirus is everywhere.

It’s rare for technology companies to cut a post from a head of state, but the coronavirus pandemic has led to it the Businesses must act aggressively to filter out unsubstantiated medical advice, jokes, and other false information that they say could pose a threat to public health.

“We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that violate our community standards and do not allow misinformation that could lead to physical harm,” said a statement from Facebook.

Facebook said it removed the video, while Twitter said Bolsonaro had to remove the video itself to continue using Twitter.

The drug in question, chloroquine phosphate, can have serious health consequences, including death, the disease control and prevention centers warned on Saturday.

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It and another drug, hydroxychloroquine sulfate, have been approved to treat conditions like malaria. Its potential effect on COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus, is unknown while researchers are studying it as treatments, the CDC said.

An Arizona man died this month after he and his wife ingested chloroquine phosphate because they thought it would protect them from infection. She said she saw television briefings at which President Donald Trump spoke about the potential benefits.

In the deleted recording, Bolsonaro spoke to a street vendor and said, “This medicine there, hydroxychloroquine, works in all places.” The BBC reported.

Twitter, which has adopted comprehensive new guidelines to reduce coronavirus misinformation, has already removed two previous tweets about corona viruses, Bolsonaro said.

“Twitter recently announced that it would extend its rules to include content that could violate public-source information provided by official sources and increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the company said.

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