Congressman Rep. Bobby Rush is not here for the spreading of misinformation regarding the coronavirus crisis—particularly, race-based misinformation.
CNBC reported that Rush lashed out at the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter on Friday for allowing their digital spaces to be used as propaganda hubs for false and often racist information mentioning, specifically, the debunked claim that black people are immune to the virus.
“I have been profoundly disappointed to see countless examples of misinformation and downright lies propagated on your platforms,” Rush wrote in a letter to both CEOs asking how they are combating “race-based targeting and harassment.” “Furthermore, much of this misinformation has also conveyed racist themes and language — literally adding insult to injury.”
Rush also spoke of the repercussions people of color face as a result of these false claims being spread.
“Such characterizations have led to race-based violence around the world and have attempted to lull certain racial groups into a dangerous, false sense of security regarding their susceptibility to this disease,” Rush wrote.
Rush pointed to a Friday tweet by British-American computer programmer and businessman John McAfee saying “Coronavirus cannot attack black people because it is a Chinese virus.”
The Illinois Democrat tagged Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey in a post asking, ″what exactly are you doing about this type of blatant misinformation?” Rush said on Twitter. “By allowing these lies to spread, you are COMPLICIT in any harm that may be suffered by members of my community as a result.”
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, “Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity.” The idea that the melanin in our skin acts as a virus deflector leaving us black and brown people immune to the coronavirus pandemic is supported by zero evidence.
For what it’s worth, it does appear that Facebook and Twitter have taken some measures to combat the nonsense.
Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies have already taken proactive measures, like directing users to reliable sources of information on the virus, to combat misinformation and other harmful practices related to COVID-19 on their platforms. The companies were among a group of tech peers that participated in a meeting with the World Health Organization (WHO) to find a way to reduce the spread of misinformation online, CNBC previously reported. The companies also reportedly participated in a call with the White House this week to discuss similar topics.
CNBC also reported that both social media giants have acknowledged that they did receive Rush’s letter, but neither company has issued a response on the matter.