Twitter temporarily restricts Donald Trump Jr.’s account over coronavirus misinformation

Tech

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

SAN FRANCISCO (NewsNation) — Twitter said on Tuesday it had restricted Donald Trump Jr.’s ability to tweet from his account for 12 hours, after one of his posts violated the social media site’s misinformation policy on COVID-19.

The eldest son of President Donald Trump had posted a now-deleted tweet on Monday, with a video of doctors talking about the drug hydroxychloroquine.

In the video, a group of medical doctors called “America’s Frontline Doctors” held a press conference — organized and sponsored by Tea Party Patriots — in front of the Supreme Court. According to their Facebook page, the group hopes to “empower Americans to stop living in fear.” The doctors asserted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 and also discounted the need for face masks amid the pandemic.

The video garnered millions of views and was also taken down by Facebook and YouTube for breaking their rules on COVID-19 misinformation.

President Trump also retweeted posts late on Monday containing a link to the video. The tweets, shared by Trump to his 84 million followers, were deleted as part of Twitter’s enforcement actions.

An Executive Order on preventing online censorship was issued by the President on May 28 in an attempt to curb censorship and direct federal agencies to clarify the scope of a law known as Section 230, which protects internet companies from liability for illegal content posted by users and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts.

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

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. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 23 concluded “Among patients hospitalized with mild-to-moderate Covid-19, the use of hydroxychloroquine, alone or with azithromycin, did not improve clinical status at 15 days as compared with standard care.”

“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 Donald Trump Jr.’s ability to tweet, retweet or like content.

Several Republicans have aired longstanding grievances against social media giants, claiming censorship of conservative voices. “Big Tech is out to get conservatives,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio in a recent antitrust hearing.

“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.

According to its enforcement guidelines, Twitter takes action to put accounts in “read-only mode” when someone violates its rules “in a particularly egregious way, or has repeatedly violated them even after receiving notifications from us.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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