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Former Washington Journalist
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Facebook–the social media giant which has been at the center of such wide-ranging scandals as the Russian campaign to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election to the effort to distribute a so-called “deepfake” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which made her appear intoxicated–has taken action to remove posts which promote the protests around the United States challenging the lockdown conditions in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to company chief Mark Zuckerberg.
Protests have begun to emerge over the last week or so by groups of provocateurs refusing to heed the calls for social distancing, and generally they demand their respective state governors lift the lockdown conditions which have largely shuttered the US economy.
In the United States, 44,623 have been killed by COVID-19 and more than 800,000 sickened, according to the most recent information.
Donald Trump has been spurring on the protesters via Twitter, calling for them to “liberate” their states.
While Twitter may allow Trump to promote the protests, which have struck states as disparate as Arizona, Michigan, Maryland and Virginia, Facebook won’t be a party to them, Zuckerberg told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.
Stephanopoulos, who himself recently tested positive for COVID-19, mentioned that protesters had been Facebook to help organize and publicize their demonstrations.
“We do classify that as harmful misinformation and we take that down,” Zuckerberg said. “At the same time it’s important that people can debate policies, so there’s a line on this. But you know, more than normal political discourse, I think a lot of the stuff that people are saying that is false around a health emergency like this can be classified as harmful misinformation.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview on MSNBC, Dr Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, lamented how many of these protesters across the country are being misguided by Trump, and how loosening up the lockdown conditions too soon could lead to tragic consequences.
“So, Katy, this is an issue and we ought to separate the people who legitimately want to start working again. There’s a lot of people not getting income and they need to pay rent and they need to do all that. And I think it’s understandable that they want to get back to work as soon as possible,” he said. “There is another group, a very large group, that are just being egged on by the president as you said. They’re getting misinformation. And they’re being misled.
“They have been misled since the beginning of this whole thing started. They’re riling up people in the wrong ways. It’s unfortunate. It’s not just those people that will be in danger. I don’t understand why they would want to choose to do that,” Dr Redlener added. “There is a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. And we’re going to get a second wave and resurgence and speed up that resurgence if we start loosening up on restrictions before we have the testing and other things in place that we need.”
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