Madonna’s controversial post about COVID-19 has been removed by Instagram, the company confirmed on Wednesday. The 61-year-old singer was slammed for spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation to her 15 million followers in a video that touted hydroxychloroquine as a cure. The viral video is the same one President Donald Trump shared before it was taken down by Twitter.
“We’ve removed this video for making false claims about cures and prevention methods for COVID-19,” Stephanie Otway, a Facebook company spokesperson, told Yahoo Entertainment. “People who reacted to, commented on, or shared this video, will see messages directing them to authoritative information about the virus.”
On Tuesday, the “Material Girl” singer shared a clip of the group calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” speaking in Washington, D.C., before the Supreme Court. Dr. Stella Immanuel is a primary care physician and a member of the group who claims to have treated 350 coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine. “You don’t need masks. There is a cure,” Dr. Immanuel says in the video. Madonna declared her a “hero.”
“The truth will set us all Free! But some people don’t want to hear the truth. Especially the people in power who stand to make money from this long drawn out search of a vaccine which has been proven and reliable for months. They would rather let fear control the people and let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” the caption read of the now-deleted post.
Madonna’s Instagram was flagged hours after it was posted. The post appeared blurred with a warning over the video: “False Information.” Before the entire post was removed, text atop the video read: “Reviewed by independent fact-checkers.” When users clicked the button “See Why,” they were shown a list of falsehoods in Madonna's video, according to USA Today, including that there is not yet a cure for COVID-19 and that hydroxychloroquine is not a cure. The FDA cautioned against use of the anti-malarial drug for COVID-19.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, started working with 45 third-party, non-partisan fact-checkers last year. It’s part of Instagram’s commitment to reduce “the spread of false information,” something its parent company is frequently criticized for.
Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter account was temporarily restricted as he shared the clip of Dr. Immanuel discussing hydroxychloroquine.
Madonna has yet to address the controversy. Singer Annie Lennox was among the puzzled fans, who commented, “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.”
Yahoo Entertainment reached out to a rep for the entertainer, but didn’t receive a response.
It’s not the first time Madonna has ruffled feathers with posts about the pandemic. In April, she shared that she tested positive for antibodies and planned to “breathe in the COVID-19 air.” In another post — from her bathtub — she declared the coronavirus “the great equalizer.”
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