Twitter Restricts Trump Jr. Account for Sharing Virus Misinformation

The account is blocked from tweeting, retweeting, following accounts or liking posts for 12 hours.

Donald Trump Jr. speaks before President Donald Trump’s address to a group of young Republicans in Phoenix on June 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Twitter on Tuesday temporary limited Donald Trump Jr.’s access to his account after the president’s oldest son shared a video with misinformation about hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug being pushed by some as a treatment for Covid-19.

Andrew Surabian, Trump Jr.’s adviser and spokesman, shared a screenshot of the lockout notice.

“Big Tech is the biggest threat to free expression in America today,” Surabian tweeted, accusing tech companies of engaging in election interference.

The Twitter statement notes the company temporarily limited some of Trump Jr.’s account features for “violating the policy on spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.”

The account is blocked from tweeting, retweeting, following accounts or liking posts for 12 hours, though the president’s son can still browse the app.

The since-deleted post landing Trump Jr. in Twitter timeout included a video that bounced around social media sites Monday night. The video — which first went viral on Facebook with 14 million views before being deleted by that site — shows a collection of physicians speaking in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, all in favor of using hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment.

President Donald Trump himself retweeted 14 separate posts backing the drug, including one from the conservative group Tea Party Patriots linking to an article with testimony from a Yale physician in favor of hydroxychloroquine. Trump and his son have a combined 89.5 million followers on Twitter.

Statements from Stella Immanuel — who the Washington Post reports received her medical license in Texas last November — were the main focus of clips that circulated Monday night.

“I’ve put myself, my staff and many doctors that I know on hydroxychloroquine for prevention because by the very mechanism of action, it works early and as a prophylactic,” Immanuel said in the video. “We see patients — 10 to 15 [Covid-19] patients — everyday. We give them breathing treatments, we only wear surgical masks. None of us have gotten sick.”

Hydroxychloroquine is a malaria drug that experts say has serious side effects and may not work against Covid-19 symptoms at all. One study published in May found patients given the drug showed no benefit and were actually more likely to die or develop an irregular heartbeat. France has banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients.

Trump has nevertheless promoted the medication at several White House briefings on the virus.

“What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it,” he said at an April 5 press conference. “It can help them but it’s not going to hurt them.”

A month later, the president even claimed he was taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent against infection, though there is no evidence to suggest the medicine works this way.

After a New York Times piece and release of Trump’s 2019 executive branch financial disclosure, it was learned three of the first family’s trusts have entries for investments in Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund. That mutual fund’s largest holding is Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company that makes Plaquenil, a brand name version of hydroxychloroquine.

Howard Forman, a practicing diagnostic radiologist who is also faculty director of finance at Yale University, told Courthouse News in an email Tuesday “there is no hard evidence of benefit” regarding hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness against Covid-19 or Immanuel’s claims of success. However, he said, there is evidence of harm.

“If all of these individuals had any confidence in their statements, they would conduct a randomized controlled trial and prove or disprove their statements,” Forman wrote. “The only ones conducted, thus far, have NOT validated her claim. Remember that she is a pediatrician claiming to be treating adult [Covid-19] patients with complex conditions: I would seriously question whether she is, in fact, even telling the truth.” (Emphasis in original.)

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