You are here: Home » International » News » Politics
Business Standard

Facebook yanks Bolsonaro video claiming vaccines cause AIDS

Facebook's press office confirmed in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that the content was removed Sunday night because it violated Facebook policy regarding COVID-19 vaccines

Jair Bolsonaro | Facebook | AIDS

AP  |  Rio De Janeiro 

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists as he arrives at Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro

and Instagram have removed from their platforms a live broadcast that Brazil's President delivered in which he said people in the U.K. who have received two coronavirus vaccine doses are developing faster than expected.

Facebook's press office confirmed in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that the content was removed Sunday night because it violated policy regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

Our policies don't allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people, the statement said. The company didn't respond to AP questions regarding why three days elapsed before the much-criticised content was removed nor whether language barriers played a role, as Bolsonaro was speaking in Portuguese.

The claim was among the most bizarre that the president, who contracted the virus last year and remains unvaccinated, has made about immunization against the coronavirus to date. He spent months sowing doubt about vaccines, especially the one produced by Chinese firm Sinovac. He also warned Brazilians that there would be no legal recourse against Pfizer for anyone suffering side effects, and joked that might include women growing beards or people transforming into alligators.

On Monday during a radio interview, Bolsonaro rebuked criticism he faced for allegedly spreading fake news with his claim about AIDS, and said he had merely read a news article published last October in Brazil. In fact, the media published a loosely related story and which pertained only to the type of vaccine in Russia's Sputnik shot, which isn't authorised for use in Brazil, according to fact-checking service Aos Fatos.

Last year, and Instagram removed posts by the far-right leader that violated community guidelines for COVID-19, including one video in which he claimed the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine was curing COVID-19 the world over. Broad testing has shown the drug to be ineffective in treating COVID-19. A few months later, Facebook removed dozens of accounts, some used by employees of Bolsonaro and two of his lawmaker sons, for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior.

But Monday marked the first time Facebook removed one of Bolsonaro's weekly live broadcasts that serve as a direct channel of communication with his supporters and tend to rack up hundreds of thousands of views.

Bolsonaro has 14.6 million followers on Facebook, and almost 19 million on Instagram. Social media platforms, including the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, were key for his election victory in 2018. He will run for reelection one year from now. Lately, his allies have been calling on backers to join rival platforms, particularly Telegram.

The Supreme Court's Justice Alexandre de Moraes is overseeing an investigation into the dissemination of allegedly false news that targets close allies of the president, two of his sons and as of August Bolsonaro himself. Last week, de Moraes ordered the preventative imprisonment of a prominent Bolsonaro booster and blogger currently residing in the U.S, and directed the federal police to ask Interpol to put out a red alert.

Facebook's actions in Brazil come amid a deluge of stories by 17 American media organisations, including the AP, based on internal company documents that show, in many cases, the company failed to adequately and quickly deal with misinformation.

The disclosures were made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen's legal counsel. The redacted versions were obtained by a consortium of news organisations, including the AP.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Tue, October 26 2021. 02:38 IST