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Citing misinformation, Facebook deletes Trump post for 1st time

Facebook has deleted a post by U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time, saying it violated its policy against spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

The post in question featured a link to a Fox News video in which Trump says children are "virtually immune" to the virus.

Facebook said Wednesday that the "video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19, which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation."

A tweet containing the video that was posted by the Trump campaign's @TeamTrump account and shared by the president was also later hidden by Twitter for breaking its COVID-19 misinformation rules.

A Twitter spokesperson said the @TeamTrump account owner would be required to remove the tweet before they could tweet again.

Facebook said that a video posted by Trump 'includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19, which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation.' (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

The White House and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. During a briefing Wednesday at the White House, Trump repeated his claim that the virus had little impact on children.

"Children handle it very well," he told reporters. "If you look at the numbers, in terms of mortality, fatalities … for children under a certain age … their immune systems are very, very strong and very powerful. They seem to be able to handle it very well, and that's according to every statistical claim."

It's the first time that Facebook has removed a post from Trump entirely, rather than labelling it, as it has done in the past.

The company has taken heat from lawmakers and its own employees in recent months for not taking action on inflammatory posts by Trump.

Facebook has previously removed ads from Trump's election campaign for breaking misinformation rules, in that case around a national census.

It also took down both Trump posts and campaign ads that showed a red inverted triangle, a symbol the Nazis used to identify political prisoners, for violating its policy against organized hate.

Several studies suggest, but don't prove, that children are less likely to become infected than adults and more likely to have only mild symptoms. But this is not the same as being "virtually immune" to the virus.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study involving 2,500 children published in April found that about one in five infected children were hospitalized versus one in three adults; three children died. The study lacks complete data on all the cases, but it also suggests that many infected children have no symptoms, which could allow them to spread the virus to others.

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