Facebook has deleted a post in which President Trump falsely claimed that the new coronavirus is less deadly than the common flu. Earlier today, Trump wrote on Facebook and Twitter that the United States has “learned to endure” the coming flu season, “just as we are learning to endure” COVID-19. Trump falsely asserted that COVID-19 is “much less deadly in most people!” Facebook confirmed to CNN that the post was deleted for violating its rules for COVID-19 error messages.
Twitter didn’t delete the tweet with the same message, but it added a warning tag and restricted interaction with the post.
As CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan put it on Twitter, Facebook has promised to remove COVID-19 error messages that could “cause imminent physical harm.” This includes false claims about the “location and severity” of the COVID-19 outbreak. We don’t know the exact mortality rate of the new coronavirus, but there is plenty of evidence that it is more deadly than influenza, and even for low-risk populations, it’s almost certainly not as deadly as the flu. Mr. Trump also claimed that “sometimes more than 100,000 people” die from the flu each year, while the true figure is that the number of Americans killed in recent years is between 24,000 and 62,000. CoVID-19 has killed more than 210,000 Americans since March.
Trump tweeted, “The flu season is coming! Every year, many people, sometimes more than 100,000 people, die of influenza despite the vaccine. Are we going to shut down our country? No, we’ve learned to live with it, just as we’re learning to live with Covid, far less deadly in most people!!! The top label reads: “This tweet violates the Twitter Rules regarding the dissemination of misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19”
Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week and spent the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before being discharged yesterday. When he announced his departure, he played down the severity of the virus. More generally, a recent study showed that Trump was the main driver of what misinsinsins experts call COVID-19 “infodemic” — a series of false claims about the effects of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines, wearing masks, social alienation and other measures.