On Tuesday, President Donald Trump posted yet another round of Coronavirus misinformation. He falsely compared the virus to the flu, claiming that “Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu” — which is, quite simply, incorrect. The yearly U.S. death toll from the flu has not come close to surpassing 100,000 in at least 40 years. Twitter and Facebook both took actions against the posts from Trump that appeared on their respective platforms and contained the misinformation. Facebook removed the president’s post entirely, while Twitter placed a notice on the post that it violated the site’s rules and “significantly limited” engagements, according to a spokesperson.
In the original post, Trump said:
‘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!!!’
Check out the Twitter version of the post — and the company’s notice alongside the original text — below:
Again — the president is wrong, period. Besides the fact that he’s totally misstating the actual yearly U.S. death toll from the flu, he is also misrepresenting the U.S. response to the disease. The country hasn’t merely “learned to live with it.” Every year, there’s a flu vaccination campaign, with consistently updated vaccines that are fine-tuned to provide the best protection possible. Currently, there’s no U.S.-approved Coronavirus vaccine, and according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief Dr. Robert Redfield, it could be next year before a Coronavirus vaccine is widely available. In other words — the U.S. isn’t even as prepared against the Coronavirus as it is against the flu, which Trump falsely suggests that people generally go about their lives without concerning themselves with.
Discussing the president’s comments, a Facebook spokesperson told Axios:
‘We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post.’
A Twitter spokesperson added:
‘We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy by making misleading health claims about COVID-19. As is standard with this public interest notice, engagements with the Tweet will be significantly limited.’
Trump has been downplaying the crisis throughout its entire duration. He has failed to systematically grasp the severity of the situation.