Twitter limits Donald Trump Jr's account over COVID-19 video

by Reuters
Tuesday, 28 July 2020 16:33 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump Jr. talks to a reporter in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

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The U.S. President's eldest son posted a video of doctors talking about the drug hydroxychloroquine

(Adds Twitter action context)

By Elizabeth Culliford

July 28 (Reuters) - Twitter Inc said on Tuesday it had reined in access to Donald Trump Jr's account for 12 hours because a tweet he had posted violated the social media site's misinformation policy on COVID-19.

The eldest son of U.S. President Donald Trump had posted a video on Monday of doctors talking about the drug hydroxychloroquine, that was removed by Twitter.

The video was also taken down by Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube after racking up millions of views, for breaking their rules on COVID-19 misinformation.

President Trump also retweeted posts late on Monday containing a link to the misleading video and accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and Democrats of suppressing the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat the novel coronavirus.

The tweets, shared by Trump to his 84 million followers, were deleted as part of Twitter's enforcement actions

Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and has worked under six U.S. presidents, said on Tuesday he has "not been misleading the American public under any circumstances."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month revoked its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, after several studies cast doubt on its effectiveness. Trump has regularly touted the drug and said he has used it himself.

In the video, the doctors also discounted the need for face masks amid the pandemic.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

"It is beyond the pale for Twitter to silence someone for sharing the views of medical professionals who happen to dissent with their anti-hydroxychloroquine narrative," said Andy Surabian, a spokesman for the president's son, after sharing a screenshot that said Twitter had temporarily limited @DonaldJTrumpJr's ability to tweet, retweet or like content.

"We did not suspend the account. The screenshot shared directly says that Twitter required the Tweet to be deleted because it violated our rules, and that we would limit some account functionality for 12 hours," a Twitter spokesman told Reuters.

In recent months, Twitter has taken action on inflammatory or misleading tweets by President Trump, placing warnings over posts it said violated its rules and attaching fact-checking information to his tweets about mail-in ballots. (Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; additional reporting by Neha Malara; Editing by Bernadette Baum)