Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s misleading tweets about the Wuhan coronavirus have been left on Twitter’s platform despite the social media platform’s promise to crack down on misinformation. Musk tweeted that children are “essentially immune” to the Chinese virus, which is not true.
Business Insider reports that Twitter has stated that it won’t be taking action against a tweet sent by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday in which he falsely claimed that children are “essentially immune” to the Wuhan coronavirus. Twitter has refused to take action against Musk’s tweet despite stating just one day earlier that it would be tightening its rules on coronavirus misinformation.
Musk stated in a tweet on Thursday: “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
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that it is not true that children are immune to the virus. While adults are at a higher risk of infection, children can still get sick with the coronavirus. Musk’s tweet appears to be extremely similar to the types of tweets that Twitter promised to crack down on in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation relating to the virus. In fact, Musk’s post virtually mirrors Twitter’s example of a misleading tweet, which reads “COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick.”
In a blog post published on Wednesday Twitter stated that it would suppress:
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 it has decided that Musk’s tweets don’t violate the site’s rules when looking at the overall context and conclusion. The firm stated that it would continue to consult its fact-checking partner to identify misinformation on the platform.
Musk is a prolific Twitter user who has caused multiple controversies for his companies and himself by tweeting. Musk was sued by British cave rescuer Vern Unsworth after he referred to the cave diver as a “pedo guy.” In August of 2018, Musk infamously tweeted that he had the “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share, this resulted in an SEC investigation that forced Musk to step down as chairman of the Tesla board for three years and pay a fine of $20 million. Tesla was also slapped with a $20 million fine over Musk’s tweet.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has previously praised Musk’s use of Twitter, stating: “He’s constantly on Twitter, constantly talking about what they are doing — and how he’s feeling about it as well. He’s very open and using it to correct press and if people aren’t focused on the right things. I think he’s a really good model of how to use it well.”
Dorsey added: “He gets into conversation, he loves what he does, he’s a scientist and he geeks out on the platform and he has conversations about this as well.”