Twitter forced Donald Trump Jr. to delete tweet spreading COVID-19 misinformation

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Twitter has forced Donald Trump Jr. — the outspoken son of President Trump — to remove a tweet from his timeline linking to a recent viral video spreading misinformation about COVID-19 that had been posted by right-wing news outlet Breitbart, as first reported by Vice.

The tweet shared a video from a group called America’s Frontline Doctors that has been popular in conspiracy circles across social media. Yesterday, the video racked up 20 million views on Facebook before being removed as misinformation.

“This is a must watch!!!” read Trump Jr.’s now-deleted tweet. “So different from the narrative that everyone is running with.” The tweet included a link to another (now also deleted) tweet that featured the video, which touted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 “cure” and claimed that masks were unnecessary to fight the virus — in stark opposition to the vast majority of guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other major medical organizations, as confirmed by a growing body of research.

A post shared by Trump Jr.’s spokesperson, Andrew Surabian, claims that the account was set to be suspended for 12 hours from posting new tweets. A statement from Twitter to Vice clarifies that it was a “temporary lockout until the Tweet is deleted—not a suspension.” In a statement posted to Twitter, Surabian commented that “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”

The America’s Frontline Doctors group has gained a new profile from the popularity of the video, despite endorsing bizarre and outlandish claims in the past. The pediatrician who appears in the video has previously alleged that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments and that “reptilians” and other aliens have infiltrated the US government.

President Trump also tweeted links to the video several times on Monday, although Twitter simply deleted those tweets, citing that they were “in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy.” Twitter has an extensive COVID-19 policy page, which notes that the company will “remove demonstrably false or potentially misleading content that has the highest risk of causing harm.”

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