Two social media sites took bold action against accounts belonging to President Donald Trump and his presidential election campaign for sharing videos of an interview in which he made false statements about coronavirus.
“Team Trump,” the president’s official campaign Twitter account, was temporarily suspended after it had shared the video of Trump’s comments in a Fox News interview that took place on Wednesday, in which he falsely claimed that children are “almost immune” to the effects of coronavirus, and therefore they should return to school in the fall.
“If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” Trump falsely asserted on the program. “They don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.”
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Twitter would not allow the account to resume tweeting until Team Trump deleted the post.
The social media company also took action against the president’s Twitter account for sharing Team Trump’s tweet, removing it and replacing the post with a message that said it was in violation of Twitter’s rules regarding the dissemination of false information on COVID-19.
Facebook took similar actions against Trump’s campaign team hours earlier for sharing the same video. Facebook removed the post from the site after they deemed the information within the video as false. It was the first time the company had removed a post from Trump’s campaign for spreading false information.
YouTube also announced it was taking the video down from Trump’s campaign channel for violating the company’s misinformation policies. It left in place, however, the original interview, available on the Fox News YouTube channel.
The Trump campaign responded disapprovingly to the removal of the videos from its social channels. “Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth,” Courtney Parella, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, said.
Though children are less likely to exhibit serious symptoms of COVID-19, they are just as likely to spread the disease as easily as adults. And while kids make up a small fraction of those who have died from coronavirus, dozens of children across the country under the age of 15 have passed away due to complications from the disease, as well as hundreds between the ages of 15 to 24.
One study from JAMA Pediatrics examined the treatment and hospitalization of children in the U.S. who were seen by doctors in the early stages of the pandemic. Of 48 children who were part of the study, 31 percent required hospitalization, with 6.25 percent needing ventilatory support.
Illness in children, the study found, is “far less frequent” that it is in adults, but still possible. Coronavirus “can result in a significant disease burden in children” the study also said.
In short, even though children are less likely to die or require the same amount of care from the disease as adults are, saying they are “almost immune” from coronavirus is a false notion that may give off the wrong impression to parents, particularly those who are supporters of the president, putting their children at risk as a result.
While children’s safety and health are among the main concerns about reopening schools this fall, teachers across the nation are also worried that sending kids back during the pandemic may result in dire outcomes for themselves or their families, too.
A recent NPR/Ipsos poll published this week found that 82 percent of teachers said they were concerned about returning to school this year, and two-thirds said they would prefer to teach remotely. Seventy-seven percent of teachers also said they were worried about how teaching in the classroom would affect their health.
“Educators believe they are viewed as expendable, and they feel forced to choose between their jobs or the health of themselves and their loved ones,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement responding to Trump’s statements.