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Facebook temporarily freezes Venezuela president’s page for spreading coronavirus misinformation

Nicolas Maduro’s page touted unfounded claims of a “cure” for the virus

Nicolas Maduro Announces Launch of Vaccination Campaign Photo by Carolina Cabral/Getty Images

Facebook froze the page of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro for violating its policy against spreading COVID-19 misinformation, the company confirmed Saturday. As first reported by Reuters, Maduro had promoted a “miracle” remedy that he claimed would cure the coronavirus, but those claims have not been supported by the medical community.

Facebook also removed a video where Maduro touted Carvativir, a homeopathic remedy extracted from thyme. Maduro has praised the solution in the past as “miracle drops” and a “medical breakthrough.” Doctors in Venezuela have called Maduro’s claims that Carvatavir can treat the coronavirus “dangerous.”

This is not the first time Maduro has made false claims about coronavirus treatments on his social media platforms. Last March, Twitter removed one of Maduro’s tweets that endorsed a “brew” that he falsely claimed could “eliminate the infectious genes” of COVID-19. The removal came despite Twitter’s stance against removing tweets by world leaders unless the tweets explicitly violated its other rules.

Facebook has tried with mixed success to combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation throughout the pandemic, enacting policies that required posts that could lead to “imminent physical harm” to be removed. It expanded the policy to require the removal of false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, including conspiracy theories and false statements about the vaccines’ safety and side effects. It also applied labels to posts with incorrect coronavirus information, and guided users to accurate information from reliable medical sources.

A Facebook spokesperson said in an email to The Verge on Saturday that the company follows guidance from the World Health Organization which says there is no cure for the coronavirus. “Due to repeated violations of our rules, we are also freezing the page for 30 days, during which it will be read-only.”

Update March 27th 10:15AM ET: Adds comment from Facebook spokesperson