THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Twitter removed a post retweeted by President Donald Trump on Sunday that cited false claims about coronavirus death statistics. The post, made by a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, claimed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “quietly” updated numbers to show that only 6% of the people listed in the coronavirus death toll had “actually died from COVID.”
The post sparked backlash from public health experts, as well as calls from supporters to reopen businesses and schools. An Australian epidemiologist wrote in a post for Medium that the 6% stat circulating on Twitter was “ludicrous” and misleading. The CDC report, issued in a regular update last week, indicates that 94% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. experienced other health issues, although COVID-19 could have still been the leading cause of death.
Twitter’s removal of the original post and President Trump’s retweet is the most recent in a string of clashes with the president as the social media giant seeks to reduce misinformation on its platform. In recent months, Twitter removed a claim reposted by Trump that states children are “almost immune” to COVID-19, added a fact check label to two of Trump’s tweets stating that mail-in voting is fraudulent, and added a warning label to accompany one of Trump’s tweets for “glorifying violence” in the face of Black Lives Matter protests.
QAnon is a baseless internet conspiracy theory gaining traction around the world. The theory asserts that a faction of “Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires” is engaging in pedophilia and human trafficking, and that Trump is waging a secret battle to stop those activities.
How QAnon and other dark forces are radicalizing Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic rages and election looms – USA TODAY – 8/31/2020
The emergence of QAnon – which has promoted and capitalized on Donald Trump’s presidency, and received attention from him – comes at a volatile moment due to a raging pandemic and an imminent election. The movement, which holds Trump on a pedestal as a hero in a fight they portray as being against evil liberals and the media, is rallying support for the president in his campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden, even though it doesn’t always follow the traditional contours of Republican-Democratic politics.
Blake Shelton Sparks Controversy With Tweet About CDC’s Coronavirus Statistics – Pop Culture – 8/31/2020
Shelton chimed in on this situation, although he tried to be as apolitical about is as he could. “I’m not even sure which side (politically) this would land on,” he tweeted. “But am I the only person who sees the new CDC update as some actual good news? Just that. Not left or right… Just updated info that’s better than we thought. I mean does everything have to be a fight these days?”
CDC: 94% of Covid-19 deaths had underlying medical conditions – WEYI Atlanta – 8/30/2020
The Centers for Disease Control released information showing how many people who died from COVID-19 had comorbidities or underlying conditions as they are sometimes referred to by doctors.
Trump Embraces Fringe Theories on Protests and the Coronavirus – The New York Times – 8/30/2020
President Trump unleashed an especially intense barrage of Twitter messages over the weekend, embracing fringe conspiracy theories claiming that the coronavirus death toll has been exaggerated and that street protests are actually an organized coup d’état against him.