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Viral misinformation video about hydroxychloroquine causes problems for social media platforms

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By Seana Davis  & Matthew Holroyd
File photo shows a bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets.
File photo shows a bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File

Facebook and Twitter have removed a viral video, first posted by rightwing publication Breitbart news, for sharing COVID-19 misinformation.

The video shows a group called "America's Frontline Doctors" making a statement outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC.

The clip suggested that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for the virus, and has been shared on Twitter by US President Donald Trump.

Searches for the drug's name also peaked on Google following the release of Breitbart's video.

Epidemiologists have moved to quash the claims, citing results from randomised controlled trials that are still in pre-print.

"There is absolutely no evidence that hydroxychloroquine can help treat coronavirus at all," said Petr Horák, President of the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists.

"At the moment there are several clinical trials ongoing, and some of those have already stopped as interim analysis of data clearly shows there is no benefit of using hydroxychloroquine."

"We should be driven by the medical and scientific evidence, not by social media," Horák told Euronews.

Both Facebook and Twitter have confirmed that the Breitbart's video was taken down for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19 and violating misinformation policies.

The viral video, however, was widely shared and viewed before platforms took action.

CrowdTangle analysis, which examines social media interaction, shows that at least four videos garnered over 15 million views on Facebook before being removed.