SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/CNN) — A video featuring a group of doctors making false and dubious claims, telling people they don’t need to wear masks during the current surge in coronavirus cases, was removed by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube after going viral online Monday.
President Donald Trump had shared multiple versions of the video with his 84 million Twitter followers before it was removed Monday night despite the dubious claims running counter to his administration’s own public health experts.
The video, published by the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, featured a group of people wearing white lab coats calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” staging a press conference in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
During the press conference, a speaker who identifies herself as a doctor makes a number of dubious claims, including that “you don’t need masks” to prevent spread of the coronavirus, and that recent studies showing hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for the treatment of Covid-19 are “fake science” sponsored by “fake pharma companies.”
“This virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” the woman claims. “You don’t need masks, there is a cure.”
The claims run contrary to multiple studies on the anti-malarial drug and advice from public health officials to prevent spread of the virus.
A study found that neither hydroxychloroquine alone nor hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin appeared to affect the condition of patients at the 15-day mark. Additionally, unusual heart rhythms and elevated liver-enzyme levels were more frequent in patients receiving hydroxychloroquine alone or with azithromycin, according to the study.
The video quickly went viral on Facebook, becoming one of the top performing posts on the platform with more than 14 million views before it was taken down Monday night for promoting misinformation. It was shared nearly 600,000 times, according to Crowdtangle, a data-analytics firm owned by Facebook.
“We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN, adding that the platform is “showing messages in News Feed to people who have reacted to, commented on or shared harmful COVID-19-related misinformation that we have removed, connecting them to myths debunked by the WHO.”
Twitter worked to scrub the video late Monday night after Trump shared versions of the video that amassed hundreds of thousands of views.
“We’re taking action in line with our Covid misinfo policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told CNN.
Twitter took action against the videos that Trump retweeted. By early Tuesday morning the videos were no longer able to be viewed on his account. Twitter also took action on a version of the video posted by Donald Trump Jr. and others shared by Breitbart News.
The video was also removed by YouTube, where it had been viewed more than 40,000 times. Users attempting to access the video late Monday were greeted with a message that said it had been removed for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
A Breitbart spokesperson did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
According to the website for America’s Frontline Doctors, the group is led by Dr. Simone Gold, a Los Angeles-based emergency medicine specialist who has previously been featured on Fox News for her views that stay-at-home orders are harmful. Gold told the Associated Press in May she wanted to speak out against stay-home orders because there was “no scientific basis that the average American should be concerned” about Covid-19.
America’s Frontline Doctors could not be reached for comment late Monday.
As of Monday, the virus has caused nearly 150,000 US deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, and is on track to become a leading cause of death in the country.
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