Fact Check: Twitter Slaps 'Misleading Information' Warning on Completely Factual Trump Tweet

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Posted: Oct 06, 2020 1:15 PM

Twitter stepped into their self-imposed responsibility of censoring the president on Tuesday by placing a warning on a tweet from Trump that compared the danger of the flu to the Wuhan coronavirus. 

"Flu season is coming up!" the president said on Tuesday morning. "Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

A short time later this message appeared to anyone who might have seen the message from the president of the United States while scrolling through their Twitter timeline:

This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.

The warning also came with the removal of the comment function on the tweet, a move they say protects more people from being able to see it. 

Twitter did not explain what it was that they found to be misleading or potentially harmful information about COVID-19 in the president's tweet, but simple fact-checking proves that the president said nothing inaccurate.

I'll break it down here: 

"Flu season is coming up!" - Yes, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

In the United States, flu season occurs in the fall and winter. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May.

"Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu." - Yes, sadly, even with new flu vaccinations made available in the United States and around the world each year meant to combat several different strains of influenza, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world succumb to the flu each year. In 1968, more than 100,000 people were estimated to have died of H3N2, which continues to plague the world and the U.S. each season, though it is now known much more commonly as simply "Influenza A." From the CDC:

While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year.

CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.

"Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!" - Here the president asks whether we should close down the country because of the impending flu season. In what is obviously meant to be a rhetorical question, the president underscores the lack of historic precedent in regards to mandating economy-crippling lockdowns because of the flu. In pointing out the lack of shutdowns, government rule by executive fiat, and forced isolation in flu seasons past, the president points out that even though people get sick and many even die, we have continued to forge on as a nation. 

In his final point, he notes that we are learning to "live with Covid," a basic fact that can be confirmed by anyone living in the United States. Although the president has always yielded to state leaders to make the best decisions for their own people, Americans have steadily returned to their normal lives, albeit at varying rates, throughout the pandemic. Unemployment has shrunk to now below eight percent after spiking to nearly 15 percent in May. Businesses have reopened, at least partially, in most places, and many children have even returned to school. While the country is still a far cry from the standard of "normal" before the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, it is inarguably closer to that bar than it was six months ago. 

Finally, the president says that COVID-19 is "far less lethal" than the flu for most populations. This is a point that is universally agreed on by leading experts in disease and backed up by simple data. While COVID-19 poses a specific threat to those over 70 with underlying conditions, it poses relatively low risk to every other age group. From the Mayo Clinic

People of any age, even children, can catch COVID-19. But it most commonly affects middle-aged and older adults. The risk of developing dangerous symptoms increases with age, with those who are age 85 and older at the highest risk of serious symptoms. In the U.S., about 80% of deaths from the disease have been in people age 65 and older. Risks are even higher for older people when they have underlying health conditions

Conversely, the flu carries a potent threat for older Americans, children, and infants. From the CDC

Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu; thousands of children are hospitalized, and some children die from flu. Children commonly need medical care because of flu, especially children younger than 5 years old.