Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela. File/Reuters
Facebook has frozen Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s page for violating policies against spreading misinformation about COVID-19 by promoting a remedy he claims, without evidence, can cure the disease, a company spokesman said on Saturday.
Maduro in January described Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” medication that neutralizes the coronavirus with no side effects, a claim doctors say is not backed by science.
Facebook has taken down a video in which Maduro promotes the medication because it violates a policy against false claims “that something can guarantee prevention from getting COVID-19 or can guarantee recovery from COVID-19.”
“We follow guidance from the WHO (World Health Organization) that says there is currently no medication to cure the virus,” the spokesman told Reuters. “Due to repeated violations of our rules, we are also freezing the page for 30 days, during which it will be read-only.”
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Maduro in the video says Carvativir, which he calls “miracle drops” of 19th century Venezuelan doctor Jose Gregorio Hernandez who has been beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, can be used preventively and therapeutically against the coronavirus.
The administrators of the page were notified of the policy violation, the Facebook spokesman said.
Maduro’s account on photo-sharing social media platform Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will not be affected.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Maduro in February said Facebook “censored” videos in which he showed Carvativir. He has in the past said he and his allies have been treated unfairly by social media companies, including what he calls arbitrary suspension of accounts.
Maduro frequently uses social media including both Facebook and Twitter, and has at times broadcast speeches over Facebook Live.
Venezuela’s official figures as of Friday showed 154,905 cases of coronavirus and 1,543 deaths, though opposition critics say the actual figure is likely higher due to limited testing.
The company said on Monday that it has started using human reviewers to assess whether tweets violate its policy against COVID vaccine misinformation. Eventually, the work will be done by a combination of humans and automation, it said.
The post contained a video clip, from an interview with Fox & Friends earlier in the day, in which Trump claimed that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.
Venezuela’s vaccine rollout has been slow, with the country receiving just 250,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses and half a million from China’s Sinopharm to date.
For months, hawkish Florida Republicans have dominated the narrative on Venezuela, meeting with President Donald Trump days before the US recognised Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader and arguing that the president sees the situation in Venezuela differently than his “America First” desire to pull US troops out of Syria.
The Dubai Police sent text messages to residents warning them about bad weather conditions.
This year, "up to March 15, a total of 531 people were killed, 300 injured and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents that took place mainly in the capital Port-au-Prince," UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Marta Hurtado told reporters.
“To all those celebrating Nowruz, both in the UAE and around the world, I extend my best wishes to you and your families and hope that the year ahead brings you continued peace and prosperity.”