- Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday that children were “essentially immune” to the novel coronavirus, which is false.
- Twitter announced in a blog post a day earlier that it would crack down on coronavirus misinformation, including things like: “COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick.”
- But Twitter says it won’t suppress Musk’s tweet.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Twitter says it won’t take action on a tweet sent by the Tesla billionaire Elon Musk on Thursday falsely claiming children are “essentially immune” to the novel coronavirus.
That’s despite the company announcing just a day earlier that it would tighten its rules on coronavirus misinformation.
Giving his opinion on Thursday, Musk said of the virus: “Kids are essentially immune, but elderly with existing conditions are vulnerable. Family gatherings with close contact between kids & grandparents probably most risky.”
Kids are essentially immune, but elderly with existing conditions are vulnerable. Family gatherings with close contact between kids & grandparents probably most risky.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
While Musk is in line with many health authorities by saying family gatherings with elderly relatives should be avoided, it is not true that children are immune to the virus. Per the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, while adults account for most confirmed cases and are at higher risk, children can get sick with COVID-19.
Musk’s tweet bears a striking resemblance to the type of content Twitter in a Wednesday blog post said it was cracking down on.
Twitter said it would suppress (emphasis ours):
“Denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as ‘COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick.”‘
Twitter told Business Insider that Musk’s tweets didn’t violate its rules when looking at the overall context and conclusion. The firm said it would continue to consult its fact-checking partners to identify misinformation that was most harmful.
Musk has consistently given the opinion that the reaction to the coronavirus outbreak has been overblown.
He also said Thursday that Tesla would manufacture ventilators “if there’s a shortage” but went on to question whether such a shortage would emerge.
A February report from Johns Hopkins University said the US had some 160,000 ventilators ready for use in hospitals, with another 8,900 in reserve. Some experts are projecting these numbers will fall overwhelmingly short of demand.