| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Facebook freezes Venezuela president’s page over COVID-19 misinformation

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

Maduro in January described Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” medication that would neutralize COVID-19 with no side effects, a claim doctors say is not scientifically proven.

Facebook has taken down a video in which Maduro promotes the medication because it breaches 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.”

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 in a preventive and therapeutic manner against COVID-19.

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

The Venezuelan President’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.

In February, Maduro 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.

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

Venezuela’s official figures as of Friday showed 154,905 cases of COVID-19 and 1,543 deaths, though opposition critics say the actual figure is likely higher due to limited testing.

  • Reuters