Venezuela slams Facebook ‘totalitarianism’ for Maduro page freeze

Facebook says it froze Venezuelan president’s page for 30 days because he violated COVID-19 misinformation rules.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a ceremony in Caracas
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has touted an oral solution called Carvativir that he claims, without evidence, can cure the coronavirus [File: Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

The Venezuelan government has hit out against Facebook after the social media giant put a “freeze” on the page of President Nicolas Maduro over COVID-19 misinformation.

In a statement on Sunday, the country’s information ministry accused Facebook of going after “content geared toward combatting the pandemic”.

A day earlier, Facebook confirmed that it had put a freeze on Maduro’s page for 30 days after he violated the platform’s policies around the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

Without any medical evidence, Maduro has touted Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” substance that he says can fight the novel coronavirus.

“We are witnessing a digital totalitarianism exercised by supranational companies who want to impose their law on the countries of the world,” the ministry said.

It described Carvativir as a retroviral of “national production and engineering”.

Facebook did not comment on the ministry’s statement.

On Saturday, a Facebook spokesman told the Reuters news agency that it follows guidance from the World Health Organization, which “says there is currently no medication to cure the virus”.

“Due to repeated violations of our rules, we are also freezing the page for 30 days, during which it will be read-only,” the spokesman said.

A company spokesperson also told the AFP news agency that a video had been removed from Maduro’s page “for violating our policies against misinformation about COVID-19 that is likely to put people at risk for harm”.

Venezuela has reported at least 155,600 cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,500 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The country has seen a recent surge in infections, however, which is testing its already strained healthcare network.

Despite the increase in infections, the government said this month that it would not welcome AstraZeneca vaccines delivered through the WHO’s COVAX scheme for low-income countries, citing fears of possible side effects.

Venezuela has approved the use of Chinese and Russian vaccines so far.

Source: News Agencies