Facebook freezes Venezuelan leader Maduro’s page over COVID-19 misinformation

Facebook has frozen Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s page for violating policies against spreading misinformation about COVID-19 by promoting a remedy he claims, without evidence, can cure the disease, a company spokesman said on Saturday.

Maduro in January described Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” medication that neutralizes the coronavirus with no side effects, a claim doctors say is not backed by science.

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Facebook has taken down a video in which Maduro promotes the medication because it violates a policy against false claims “that something can guarantee prevention from getting COVID-19 or can guarantee recovery from COVID-19.”

“We follow guidance from the WHO (World Health Organization) that says there is currently no medication to cure the virus,” the spokesman told Reuters. “Due to repeated violations of our rules, we are also freezing the page for 30 days, during which it will be read-only.”

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Maduro in the video says Carvativir, which he calls “miracle drops” of 19th century Venezuelan doctor Jose Gregorio Hernandez who has been beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, can be used preventively and therapeutically against the coronavirus.

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The administrators of the page were notified of the policy violation, the Facebook spokesman said.

Maduro’s account on photo-sharing social media platform Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will not be affected.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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Maduro in February said Facebook “censored” videos in which he showed Carvativir. He has in the past said he and his allies have been treated unfairly by social media companies, including what he calls arbitrary suspension of accounts.

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Maduro frequently uses social media including both Facebook and Twitter, and has at times broadcast speeches over Facebook Live.

Venezuela’s official figures as of Friday showed 154,905 cases of coronavirus and 1,543 deaths, though opposition critics say the actual figure is likely higher due to limited testing.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Leslie Adler)

© 2021 Reuters

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