A viral video, filmed by the far-right media “Breitbart” and presenting a collective of pro-hydroxychloroquine doctors, has been deleted by several social networks for non-compliance with their “false information policies” on Covid-19.
On Monday, a group of American doctors calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington. These men and women in white coats defended that “the [Covid-19] virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and azithromycin”, and opposed the wearing of masks and social distancing measures. The intervention, broadcast live by far-right American media Breitbart and organized by the Tea Party Patriots, a conservative political organization, was a viral success on social networks Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where it was notably shared by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube remove the video
But the success of this video was short-lived. As of Monday, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube decided to remove it from their platforms, believing that it was disseminating “false information” about the Covid-19 and did not respect the rules of these sites. A spokesperson for Facebook, where the video had more than 24 million views, justified the decision as follows: “We deleted this video for making false claims about the remedies and prevention methods for Covid-19. People who reacted to commented on, or shared this video will see messages directing them to authoritative information about the virus. It took us several hours to get this video banned and we are doing a study to understand why it took longer than expected. ”
Likewise, Twitter and YouTube have invoked non-compliance with their “false information policies on Covid-19” to erase the various versions of the video posted online. Twelve days after its creation, the official site of the collective of doctors, hosted by Squarespace, was also deactivated. The video is still available on the Russian social network VK or on Vimeo.
But what did America’s Frontline Doctors say to attract the wrath of these social networks? During their press conference, these doctors praised a “remedy” based on hydroxychloroquine to “save lives”. However, the effectiveness of this substance against Covid-19 has not been demonstrated. Doctor Stella Immanuel also asserted that there is “no need for masks” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and that recent studies showing that hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for the treatment of Covid-19 are “false science” sponsored by “bogus pharmaceutical companies”. These comments deemed dangerous by the platforms have therefore earned them deletion.
Doctors pro-Trump, occult or converted to cryptocurrency
Composed of conservative and pro-Trump voices, America’s Frontline Doctors have expressed their hostility to containment measures. Doctor Simone Gold, at the origin of the collective, defends the idea that the containment measures will cause more deaths than the virus itself. During the intervention, the Californian emergency physician Dan Erickson even went so far as to defend the Swedish model and the strategy of collective immunity, comparing the death rate in Sweden with that of the United Kingdom (forgetting to say that this the latter had first followed the strategy of mass immunity, before changing his mind to confine his population). He nevertheless recognizes that “some of his northern neighbors have fewer deaths, for various reasons that I will not discuss today”, thus omitting to mention the strict confinements put in place from the start in Denmark, Norway, and Finland.
The credibility of the collective was quickly weakened, since the American press took an interest in the profiles of these different doctors, and in particular of Doctor Stella Immanuel, a vehement defender of hydroxychloroquine. This Texan pediatrician, also a pastor, has been nicknamed “Demon Doctor” by some of the American press, because of her puzzling and mystical words. In sermons, available on her site and on her YouTube channel, she assures that many gynecological diseases are due to “spirits”, who “mate” with the sick, or that alien DNA is used to cure the patients.
Another problematic profile, that of Dr. Dan Erickson, who has been defending for several months the idea that Covid-19 is less harmful than the flu or than what is reported in medical journals. These remarks have earned him to be contradicted by the American College and Academy of Emergency Physicians, who accuse him of using biased data to reach these conclusions.
Finally, the team also includes Dr. James Todaro, a medical graduate. However, his LinkedIn profile ensures that he has not practiced as an ophthalmologist since 2018 when he converted to the promotion of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
This directly was in violation of the guidelines of these social media platforms’ Covid-19 information policy.