Facebook and Twitter said Monday that they had ordered the removal of a video in which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said falsely that a drug was working everywhere against the coronavirus.
It is rare for tech companies to take down a post from a head of state, but the coronavirus pandemic has led the companies to move aggressively to filter out unfounded medical advice, hoaxes and other false information that they say could risk public health.
“We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow misinformation that could lead to physical harm,” Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook said it removed the video, while Twitter said it required Bolsonaro to remove the video himself to go on using Twitter.
The drug in question, chloroquine phosphate, can cause serious health consequences, including death, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Saturday.
It and another drug, hydroxychloroquine sulfate, are approved to treat conditions such as malaria. Their possible effect on COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus, remains unknown while researchers study them as treatments, the CDC said.
An Arizona man died this month after he and his wife ingested chloroquine phosphate, believing it would protect them from becoming infected. She said she had watched televised briefings during which President Donald Trump talked about its potential benefits.
In the deleted recording, Bolsonaro spoke to a street vendor and said, “That medicine there, hydroxychloroquine, is working in all places,” the BBC reported.
Twitter, which has adopted sweeping new policies to reduce coronavirus misinformation, had already removed two previous tweets from Bolsonaro about coronavirus, the company said.
“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,” the company said in a statement.