The latest video to capture the public’s imagination this week is of a press conference organized by a group of people, dressed in white coats, with one of them claiming to be a doctor treating Covid-19.
As it has emerged, the video was created by US right-wing media outlet Breitbart. The video depicts a group of people calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” staging a press conference outside the US Supreme Court in Washington DC.
The video has done rounds on Facebook shared on individual accounts and various groups. The content is very catchy, with strong claims that the drug hydroxychloroquine is indeed the answer to the Corona Virus pandemic.
Social media networks, Facebook and Twitter, have been faced with the extra task of curbing the spread of misinformation since the outbreak of the pandemic early this year. In May, the ‘Plandemic’ video claiming that vaccines weaken the immunity and that wearing a mask would activate the virus, also went viral.
The nature of such sensational information makes the public desperately want to believe it, hence their fast spread on social media. NBC News reported that within 24 hours, the video had garnered 20 million views on Facebook alone.
“That Breitbart video from the doctors claiming that hydroxychloroquine cures the corona virus has been going crazy in anti-vax, anti-mask, reopen Facebook Groups today,” Brandy Zandrozny of NBC tweeted. “It’s at >20 mil views on FB. And that doesn’t include all the private groups it’s been spreading through.”
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all been making frantic efforts to remove the video , although it seems this will be an ongoing effort. People are still making minor alterations on the video and re-uploading it.
Facebook has taken more time removing the video than it should have.
“We’ve removed this video for making false claims about cures 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 enforce against the video and we’re doing a review to understand why this took longer than it should have. Since April to June we removed more than 7 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram for violating our policy against sharing harmful COVID-19 misinformation,” the company told The Verge.
What has made the issue even more challenging is that the video was shared by the US President, Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. Twitter removed several retweets of the video and tweets by the US president and reported that it had ordered the US President’s son to remove the misleading tweet. Twitter also said that it had in fact added a note on the trending topic warning about the potential risks of hydroxychloroquine.
On the validity of the group’s message, we really cannot tell if it’s true or false. However, Will Sommer of the Daily Beast had this to say about the vocal Dr. Stella Immanuel.
“Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.”
“She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.”
Website hosting provider Squarespace has shut down the website of the group America’s Frontline Doctors after the video went viral .
According to a screenshop posted by ‘Dr’ Simone Gold, the web hosting service shut down the group’s website for “activity that’s false, fraudulent, inaccurate or deceiving.”