Late on Monday night, Twitter removed one of the president's retweets for violating the social media platform's policy about spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump had shared a video posted by Dr. Stella Immanuel containing false information about COVID-19. While the video has been removed and other accounts have been suspended for sharing it, the president's platform remains unhindered.
The video posted by the president and many others late on Monday night argued that "COVID has a cure. America, wake up." It featured Immanuel contradicting other public health experts and studies from around the world, while promoting politicized conspiracy theories about the virus. Soon after Trump retweeted it, the video was replaced by an ominous gray box reading "this tweet is no longer available," according to a report by NBC News. Immanuel's video has since been removed from Facebook and YouTube for similar policy violations.
"Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy," read Twitter's official response to the video removal. Twitter suspended Donald Trump Jr.'s account for 12 hours for retweeting the video but left the president's account untouched.
Scientists are working around the clock on treatments, vaccines and potential cures for COVID-19, but none exist yet. Immanuel's video implied that a "cure" was being withheld from the public for some nefarious agenda. She also claimed without evidence that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is a valid treatment for the coronavirus, but that it is being discredited because the president supported it.
Extensive studies conducted around the world have found that hydroxychloroquine does not help treat or cure COVID-19 and that in many patients it can actually have severe ill effects. Trump also retweeted conspiracy theories claiming that White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Anthony Fauci has been misleading the American public, again without objective evidence. The tweets force Fauci to appear on Good Morning America on Tuesday to defend himself.
"I have not been misleading the public under any circumstances," Fauci said. He cited "overwhelming prevailing clinical trials" that showed hydroxychloroquine to be "not effective" in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has repeatedly tried to combat Twitter's ability to fact-check his tweets and remove his retweets, but so far he has found no legal recourse to do so. The social media company has said that it is not in the public's best interest to de-platform the president, but instead to look critically at what he says on their site.