Tuesday 6 October 2020 4:44 pm

Facebook removes Trump post claiming flu is more deadly than Covid-19

Facebook today removed a post by US President Donald Trump in which he falsely claimed that seasonal flu was more deadly than coronavirus.

The social media site removed the post as it breached its policies on misinformation related to Covid-19.

Read more: Facebook to launch oversight board just before US election

In the post Trump falsely claimed that the flu sometimes killed more than 100,000 Americans per year and was therefore more lethal than coronavirus.

The US death toll from flu has not reached 100,000 since 1967. The worst flu season in recent years was in 2017-2018, when more than 61,000 died, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By contrast, more than 210,000 people have now died from coronavirus in the US.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We remove incorrect information about the severity of Covid-19, and have now removed this post.”

While the post was removed from Facebook, it remains live on Twitter with a label obscuring the tweet.

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19,” the label read.

“However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Facebook has previously said it will flag posts from major politicians that break its rules, though boss Mark Zuckerberg has stated that users should still be able to view the material.

Twitter has been more active in placing labels on the president’s tweets for breaches on its policies on misinformation and abusive behaviour.

Twitter prohibits the sharing of false or misleading information related to Covid-19 that could lead to harm.

However, it uses a public interest notice if it deems there to be a public interest in keeping the content on its platform despite a breach of its rules.

A damning report published earlier this year slammed Facebook for failing to halt the spread of misinformation about Covid-19, saying it posed a “major threat” to public health.

Read more: Facebook is a ‘major threat’ to public health, report warns

Research by activist group Avaaz found health misinformation relating to the pandemic was viewed 3.8bn times on the social media site in the last year.

Just 16 per cent of all misinformation analysed in the study carried a warning label, with the remaining 84 per cent remaining online without a warning.

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