Facebook earlier this month pledged to take down posts that promoted drinking bleach as a cure for the coronavirus -- but it has faced difficulty keeping that promise in the wake of President Donald Trump's musings about injecting disinfectants.
The New York Times reports that "Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have declined to remove Mr. Trump’s statements posted online in video clips and transcriptions of the briefing" on the grounds that "he did not specifically direct people to pursue the unproven treatments."
But this has also led to a flurry of activity using the Trump comments as a pretext to push for "miracle" COVID-19 cures.
"A New York Times analysis found 768 Facebook groups, 277 Facebook pages, nine Instagram accounts and thousands of tweets pushing UV light therapies that were posted after Mr. Trump’s comments and that remained on the sites as of Wednesday," the paper writes. "More than 5,000 other posts, videos and comments promoting disinfectants as a virus cure were also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube this week. Only a few of the posts have been taken down."
Renee DiResta, a technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, tells the Times that social media companies' policies would make sense if there were a "competent government" that could serve as a "reputable health authority," but the president so far has not proven capable of being one.