Twitter limits Donald Trump Jr.'s account, deletes video shared by president pushing false COVID-19 treatment

Twitter removed a video that was retweeted on President Donald Trump's account late Monday night sharing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment for the coronavirus. The platform also limited the account of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., after he shared one version of the video as a “must watch!!!”

Trump has repeatedly pushed unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, is an effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

But there is no known cure for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Numerous studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also recently withdrew an order that allowed the drug's use as a emergency treatment for COVID-19.

President Donald Trump walks towards members of the press prior to his departure from the White House on July 27, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trump returned to his earlier advocacy for hydroxychloroquine after a trip to North Carolina on Monday where he promoted efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Trump retweeted a series of tweets advocating for hydroxychloroquine, including a video of a doctor claiming to have successfully used the drug on hundreds of patients.

In the video, Dr. Stella Immanuel, a physician from Houston, Texas, promotes hydroxychloroquine as a sure-fire cure for the coronavirus. She claims to have successfully treated 350 people “and counting,” including some with underlying medical conditions.

“You don’t need masks, there is a cure,” Immanuel says in the video. “You don’t need people to be locked down.” She was among physicians in a group called “America's Frontline Doctors” who made misleading claims about the virus at a news conference Monday in Washington.

A Twitter spokesperson said it was “taking action in line” with the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy. Twitter also removed a tweet by the president’s son that featured a version of the video and limited some of his account's functionality for 12 hours.

Facebook and YouTube also began scrubbing their sites of the video because it includes misleading claims about hydroxychloroquine, and glosses over the dangers of taking it. But dozens of versions of the video remain live on their platforms, with conservative news outlets, groups and internet personalities sharing it on their pages, where users have viewed them millions of times.

One version of the video had more than 17 million views before Facebook took it down.

Facebook is trying to remove the video because it is “sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” according to Andy Stone, a spokesman for the platform.

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The president also shared a post from the Twitter account for a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, a former top White House adviser to Trump, accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci of misleading the public over hydroxychloroquine.

Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, pushed back Tuesday during an appearance on ABC's “Good Morning America.”

“I go along with the FDA,” said Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.”

It's not the first time Fauci has come under attack from Trump and those close to him.

The president's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who has clashed with Fauci over hydroxychloroquine, recently penned a scathing attack on the doctor that was published by USA Today. The newspaper later said the opinion piece did not meet its standards.

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In recent nationally televised interviews, Trump himself has described Fauci as “a bit of an alarmist” and accused him of making “mistakes” in his coronavirus guidance to the American people.

Asked if he can continue to do his job when Trump continues to publicly question his credibility, Fauci said Tuesday he'll press ahead “no matter what" because of the stakes involved.

“I don’t tweet. I don’t even read them, so I don’t really want to go there,” Fauci said. “I just will continue to do my job no matter what comes out because I think it’s very important. We’re in the middle of a crisis with regard to an epidemic, a pandemic. This is what I do. This is what I’ve been trained for my entire professional life and I’ll continue to do it.”

Asked about claims he's been misleading the public, Fauci said: “I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.”

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This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.