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Jair Bolsonaro sanctioned by social media companies for COVID vaccine misinformation

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By The Cube
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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been sanctioned by social media companies for sharing false information about COVID-19 vaccines.

Facebook said it had removed a live broadcast from its platforms for violating platforms rules on vaccination.

YouTube also removed a corresponding video on Monday and have banned Bolsonaro from uploading content for one week.

Bolsonaro had falsely claimed in the broadcast last Thursday that UK citizens are developing AIDS faster than expected after receiving two vaccines doses.

The Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases has stated that there is "no known relationship" between any coronavirus vaccines and AIDS.

A Brazilian Senate committee has now called for Bolsonaro to be suspended from all social networks for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.

Facebook's press office confirmed that Thursday's live broadcast was removed from both Facebook and Instagram on Sunday night, three days after it was uploaded.

"Our policies don't allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people," a spokesperson said.

Facebook has recently faced scrutiny over whether its content moderation policies are enforced across various languages. Bolsonaro was speaking in Portuguese in the offending video.

It is the first time that Facebook has removed one of Bolsonaro's weekly live broadcasts.

"We have removed a video from Jair Bolsonaro's channel for violating our medical misinformation policies on COVID-19 by stating that vaccines do not reduce the risk of contracting the disease and that they cause other infectious diseases," YouTube added in a statement.

This is the second time the president has violated the platform's "community standards".

Despite contracting the virus last year, the Brazilian president has refused to be vaccinated and has regularly spread false information about coronavirus vaccines.

A parliamentary inquiry committee in the country has blamed Bolsonaro over the health crisis and has called for him to be charged for his "irresponsible" policies.

On Monday during a radio interview, Bolsonaro rebuked criticism for allegedly spreading fake news about AIDS, and said he had merely read a news article published last October in Brazil.

Last year, Facebook and Instagram removed posts by Bolsonaro that violated community guidelines for COVID-19, including one video in which he lauded the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a virus cure. Broad testing has shown the drug to be ineffective in treating COVID-19.

Bolsonaro has 14.6 million followers on Facebook, and almost 19 million on Instagram, and his social media channels as a direct channel of communication with his supporters.

The Brazilian president also has 3.5 million subscribers on his official YouTube channel.

Additional sources • AP, AFP