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On Sunday, Twitter deleted two of Bolsonaro’s tweets, videos of himself praising the use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus and calling for a speedy end to social distancing measures in the country.
“Twitter recently announced the expansion of its rules to cover content that could be against public health information provided by official sources and could put people at greater risk of transmitting COVID-19,” a Twitter spokesperson told Fox News in regard to the removal of Bolsonaro’s tweets.
“What I have been hearing from people is that they want to work,” the Brazilian leader said in one of the videos. “Brazil cannot stop or we’ll turn into Venezuela.”
Facebook followed suit Monday evening, deleting the same videos from Bolsonaro’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
This came after Twitter’s deletion of a homemade treatment circulated by Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro.
Twitter on Friday also deleted a tweet from President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, claiming that hydroxychloroquine “has been shown to have a 100% effective rate treating COVID-19.” Giuliani had been quoting a tweet from Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that both of their accounts had been temporarily locked.
In October 2019, Twitter said that in cases involving reported tweets from world leaders, it would “err on the side of leaving the content up” if there was a public interest in doing so. Days ago, Twitter updated its policy to broaden its “definition of harm,” and removing content that “goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information.”
The new terms of service specifically mentioned posts that downplay the importance of social distancing or tout treatments that are known to be ineffective.
Facebook similarly updated its policy, saying “we remove COVID-19 related misinformation that could contribute to imminent physical harm.”
The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine had amassed attention in recent weeks after a small French study found promising results.
On March 21, President Trump tweeted about the drug’s promise.
In a statement published Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a statement announcing that 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate had been donated to a national stockpile and could possibly be used to treat coronavirus patients or in clinical trials.
It said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had allowed them “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”
A study underway by the University of Washington in conjunction with New York University aims to investigate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.
Researchers look to enroll 2,000 participants who are “close contacts of persons with confirmed or pending COVID-19 diagnoses,” according to a statement announcing the study.
“We currently don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works, but we will learn in as short a timeframe as possible what the outcome is,” principal investigator Ruanne Barnabas said in the statement.
The world has now faced 838,061 cases of coronavirus and 41,261 deaths. The U.S. on Tuesday surpassed China in its number of publicly reported deaths, clocking in at 3,440.