Dr. Twitter examined a Sunday tweet from President Donald Trump and prescribed censorship.
Trump on Sunday used the social media platform to give Americans an update on his health. On Oct. 2, the president was hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus. He returned to the White House a week ago and has now been cleared to resume his full schedule.
“A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!” Trump exulted in a tweet Sunday.
Twitter, however, took a dim view of the president’s upbeat declaration. The social media giant hid the tweet behind a warning.
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” it wrote.
The move made it so Twitter users were unable to like or reply to the tweet or share it without comment.
“We try to prevent a Tweet like this that otherwise breaks the Twitter Rules from reaching more people, so we have disabled most of the ways to engage with it,” Twitter said.
Should Twitter censor the president?
A Twitter spokeswoman told Reuters that the tweet made “misleading health claims” about COVID-19. The social media giant did not indicate what was “misleading” or “potentially harmful” about the president’s comment.
On Saturday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley issued a memo giving Trump the all-clear.
“This evening I am happy to report that in addition to the President meeting CDC criteria for the safe discontinuation of isolation, this morning’s COVID PCR sample demonstrates, by currently recognized standards, he is no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” the statement said. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, a type of test in which a swab is taken from the nose or throat to detect the virus.
“Now at day 10 from symptom onset, fever-free for well over 24 hours and all symptoms improved, the assortment of advanced diagnostic tests obtained reveal there is no longer evidence of actively replicating virus,” the memo said.
Trump had also given an upbeat assessment of his health during an interview on Fox News with Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“[I]t seems like I’m immune, so I can go way out of a basement, which I would have done anyway,” the president said when asked about his medical status.
“The president is in very good shape to fight the battles,” Trump said. “I beat this crazy horrible China virus.
Trump said that he “passed the highest test, the highest standards, and I’m in great shape. And I have to tell you I feel fantastically. I really feel good.”
“The White House doctors are the best .. .they said totally free of spreading, there’s no spread,” Trump said.
Twitter’s muzzling of the president was Trump’s second brush with social media censors in recent days.
Last week, after Trump compared COVID-19 with the flu, Twitter restricted access to the post, as it did Sunday, while Facebook took the post down.
“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the post violated the social media giant’s rules.
Twitter spokesman Adrian Zamora said then that a “public interest notice” was slapped on Trump for “making misleading health claims about COVID-19.”
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