Madonna's Instagram flagged for spreading coronavirus misinformation

The singer claimed a vaccine had been found but was being concealed to ‘let the rich get richer’

Instagram has deleted a post by Madonna in which the pop star shared a coronavirus conspiracy theory with her 15 million followers.

She captioned the video with claims that a vaccine for Covid-19 has “been found and proven and has been available for months”. She continued: “They would rather let fear control the people and let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

The video shows Dr Stella Immanuel, a primary care physician in Houston, Texas, claiming to have treated 350 coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine. She was speaking with a group called America’s Frontline Doctors outside the US Supreme Court building.

Instagram initially blurred the video and captioned it: “False Information”. It linked users to a page debunking the claims and clarifying that there is currently no coronavirus vaccine. It also limited the spread of the video on its platform.

Hours later, it deleted the post “for making false claims about cures and prevention methods for Covid-19,” said Raki Wane, a spokesperson for the social media platform. “People who reacted to, commented on, or shared this video, will see messages directing them to authoritative information about the virus.”

The Guardian has contacted representatives for Madonna for comment.

Pop star Annie Lennox commented on the post: “This is utter madness!!! I can’t believe that you are endorsing this dangerous quackery. Hopefully your site has been hacked and you’re just about to explain it.”

Donald Trump Jr was banned from tweeting for 12 hours after posting the clip later shared by Madonna. Facebook and Twitter have previously removed it, citing it as misinformation.

The America’s Frontline Doctors event was organised by a group called Tea Party Patriots Action. Footage was widely disseminated by rightwing website Breitbart. Donald Trump shared different videos of the event with his 84 million Twitter followers on Monday, despite its contents contradicting the advice of his administration’s public health experts.

In March, Madonna described coronavirus as “the great equaliser”. From a petal-filled bath, she said: “What’s terrible about it is that it’s made us all equal in many ways, and what’s wonderful about is, is that it’s made us all equal in many ways.”

In May, she said she had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, and assumed that she and her team had been ill with the virus at the end of her winter tour. “At the time we all thought we had a bad flu,” she said.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that Madonna had made a €1m donation to a fund organised by the EU to find a vaccine for Covid-19.

• This article was amended on 29 July 2020 because it was Instagram, not Madonna as an earlier version said, that deleted the video from Madonna’s profile.

Contributor

Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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