Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria treatment for coronavirus

Twitter has in the last week taken down multiple posts from public figures promoting an anti-malaria drug as a way to treat coronavirus.

On Friday, the platform removed a tweet from President Trump‘s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani claiming that hydroxychloroquine is a safe way to treat COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the platform confirmed that the tweet was removed for violating its rules on coronavirus misinformation.

Twitter earlier this month said it would begin removing coronavirus-related posts that deny expert recommendations, promote fake treatments and prevention techniques, or misleadingly claim to be from authorities.

Giuliani’s now-deleted post included direct quotes from a tweet by conservative activist Charlie Kirk that has also been removed for violating rules.

A March 20 tweet from Fox News’s Laura Ingraham claiming that hydroxychloroquine was in use “at many hospitals” and was showing “very promising results” was no longer available on the platform as of Monday. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on whether Ingraham deleted the tweet herself or was compelled to do so but did confirm that the post fell under the platform’s health misinformation policy. 

Twitter has taken action against similar tweets internationally as well.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had a post praising hydroxychloroquine removed this weekend for violating the platform’s coronavirus misinformation policy, the Twitter spokesperson confirmed to The Hill.

Hydroxychloroquine has been floated as a treatment for COVID-19 since a small French study released earlier this month indicated positive results in treating the disease.

However, health officials have warned that not enough is known about the effects of the drug on COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said during a press briefing earlier this month that much of what is known about the drug is based on “anecdotal reports.”

The unproven treatment got a big boost earlier this month when Trump tweeted that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic, “taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

Twitter did not respond to questions about why that tweet remains on the platform despite the other removals.

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