President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro. (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
Both Facebook and YouTube have pulled a video of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro falsely claiming that coronavirus vaccines cause AIDS.
The social media giant removed the live broadcast while YouTube, which is owned by Google, went a step further and suspended the president altogether for one week.
In the offending clip which originally aired Thursday (21 October), Bolsonaro berates Brits who have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses by bizarrely claiming they are developing AIDS.
He does so by reading out a press clipping that spouted the conspiracy theory, which is falsely claimed to have come from the British government. The government of course made no such claim.
Jair Bolsonaro banned from YouTube for at least seven days
Facebook’s press office confirmed to Reuters in an emailed statement that the content on Bolsonaro’s page was removed Sunday night because it violated the company’s misinformation guidelines.
“Our policies don’t allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people,” the spokesperson said.
YouTube confirmed it pulled the video the following day for “violating our medical disinformation policy regarding COVID-19 for alleging that vaccines don’t reduce the risk of contracting the disease and that they cause other infectious diseases,” YouTube said in a statement.
The video platform has also suspended the president for the next seven days, it is understood.
Under YouTube user guidelines, users are initially given an alert if their content is found to have gone against policies – this happened in July, when 15 of Bolsonaro’s videos were removed from the platform.
Per policy, this would mean that, as a second strike, he would be suspended for a week. If his channel is flagged a third time within 90 days after, they are banned for two weeks.
If the user is slapped with a third warning, their channel is permanently taken down from YouTube.
The Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases has stated that there is “no known relationship” between any coronavirus vaccines and AIDS.
It’s a scientific fact backed by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health England and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) that unequivocally says that health regulator-approved vaccines are safe – including for those living with HIV.
People living with HIV were included in clinical trials for the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC says.
Despite such overwhelming evidence, Bolsonaro has routinely ignored medical advice and still has not been vaccinated.
Bolsonaro has spent much of his presidency sowing seeds of doubt around COVID-19 vaccines and other measures, such as face masks which he refuses to wear because they are “gay”, that can curb the virus.
He once told Brazilians to stop fearing coronavirus – which he said is just a “little flu” – like a “country of f*gs’ before claiming he himself was too macho to catch it. He subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.