Facebook removes video where Brazil’s Bolsonaro falsely claimed COVID vaccine linked to AIDS

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has once again had videos removed from his Facebook and Instagram accounts after making false statements about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bolsonaro’s latest violation with the social media giant came after he falsely linked the coronavirus vaccine to AIDS during a livestream Thursday, attributing the claim to a U.K. government report found to be inaccurate.

‘I’m just going to report it, I won’t comment. I’ve talked about it in the past, I’ve been beaten a lot… here we go: official U.K. government reports suggest that the fully vaccinated… who are the fully vaccinated? Second dose, right… 15 days later, 15 days after the second dose… fully vaccinated… they are developing Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome much faster than expected,’ the far-right leader said. 

‘So, read the article, I won’t read it here because I may have problem with my live (stream).’

Both videos were pulled from Facebook and Instagram on Sunday.   

‘Our policies do not allow for claims that Covid-19 vaccines kill or can cause serious harm to people,’ a Facebook spokesperson told Brazilian outlet Folha de São Paulo. 

Carlos Lula, president of National Council of Health Secretaries, condemned Bolsonaro’s misinformation claims on Monday, the outlet also reported. 

‘It imposes a burden on people with HIV. Another regrettable chapter in this successions of absurdities by the president during the fight against the pandemic,’ he said. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had videos pulled from Facebook and Instagram on Sunday where he falsely said the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to AIDS, basing his claims on a UK government report. The video was part of a live stream that Bolsonaro conducted Thursday night. As of Monday, the video was still available on his YouTube channel

Bolsonaro has often attacked the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, measures set in place to combat the spread of virus and has even likened the viral bug to 'a little flu'

Bolsonaro has often attacked the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, measures set in place to combat the spread of virus and has even likened the viral bug to ‘a little flu’

While none of the videos are no longer on his Facebook or Instagram pages, the one-hour, twelve-minute footage was still accessible on his YouTube channel as of Monday morning. His Twitter account still has a tweet for followers to view the COVD-19 misinformation footage on YouTube, as well.

Bolsonaro, who in the past compared the coronavirus to ‘a little flu’ before he contracted the ravaging virus in July 2020 and has constantly attacked measures set in place to combat the spread of a virus that has killed more than 606,000 people in Brazil, had at least 15 videos removed from his YouTube channel in July. 

One of the videos showed former health minister Eduardo Pazzuelo likening COVID-19 to AIDS.

Bolsonaro also railed against the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine on October 10 when we said he was not permitted to watch a soccer match in person in São Paulo because all fans in attendance were required to be vaccinated. Bolsonaro went on to declare two days later that he would never get the vaccine.

His rhetoric, according to Porto Alegre councilwoman Karen Santo, was partially to blame when anti-vaxxers with swastika signs clashed with legislators holding a COVID-19 vaccine passport mandate Wednesday.

A member of the Rio de Paz NGO places white handkerchiefs to pay tribute to Brazil's more than 606,000 coronavirus victims

A member of the Rio de Paz NGO places white handkerchiefs to pay tribute to Brazil’s more than 606,000 coronavirus victims

Facebook’s decision to take down Bolsonaro’s misleading videos from its own network as well Instagram comes as reports revealed Monday that company employees had warned that as the social media behemoth raced to become a global service, it was failing to hone in on abusive content in countries where such speech was likely to cause the most harm.

Facebook failed to prevent its products from becoming channels for hate speech, inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation – some which has been blamed for inciting violence, according to information gathered from interviews with five former employees and internal company documents viewed by multiple media outlets, including Reuters.

Facebook’s internal company documents showed that the company has known that it hasn’t hired enough workers who possess both the language skills and knowledge of local events needed to identify objectionable posts from users in a number of developing countries. 

The documents also showed that the artificial intelligence systems Facebook employs to root out such content frequently aren’t up to the task, either, and that the company hasn’t made it easy for its global users themselves to flag posts that violate the site’s rules.

Facebook announced Sunday it had taken down a video from its network, as well as Instagram, where Bolsonaro read a false report attributed to the UK government falsely claiming the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to AIDS

Facebook announced Sunday it had taken down a video from its network, as well as Instagram, where Bolsonaro read a false report attributed to the UK government falsely claiming the COVID-19 vaccine is linked to AIDS

Those shortcomings, employees warned in the documents, could limit the company’s ability to make good on its promise to block hate speech and other rule-breaking posts in places from Afghanistan to Yemen.

The documents are among a cache of disclosures made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Congress by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who left the company in May. 

Facebook spokesperson Mavis Jones said in a statement that the company has native speakers worldwide reviewing content in more than 70 languages, as well as experts in humanitarian and human rights issues. She said these teams are working to stop abuse on Facebook’s platform in places where there is a heightened risk of conflict and violence.

‘We know these challenges are real and we are proud of the work we’ve done to date,’ Jones said.

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