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Venezuela accuses Facebook of 'digital totalitarianism' over banning Maduro's page

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro (Photo by Reuters)

Venezuela has accused Facebook of "digital totalitarianism" after it froze President Nicolas Maduro's account for a month over a series of alleged false claims about COVID-19.

On Saturday, the social media giant told Reuters that Maduro had violated its policies by spreading misinformation after promoting a remedy, which he claimed could cure the disease.

Facebook said it has also removed a video where Maduro promotes Carvativir, a homeopathic remedy extracted from thyme, which he called a “miracle” medication that neutralizes the coronavirus with no side effects.

The company claimed that it followed guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) that there is currently no medication that can 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.”

In response to the move, Venezuela's Information Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that Facebook was going after "content geared toward combating the pandemic".

"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 also described Carvativir as a retroviral of "national production and engineering."

In a post on his twitter page following the move, Maduro said that he would broadcast his daily coronavirus briefing on the Facebook account of Venezuelan First Lady Cilia Flores.

Venezuela — subjected to crippling US sanctions — has so far reported over 155,663 COVID-19 cases and 1,555 deaths.

Health experts have already warned that the country’s healthcare system remains vulnerable to the pandemic due to the American embargo.

Venezuela continues the fight against COVID-19 with the help of foreign friends such as China, Russia, and Iran. Officials say this fight proves the country's socialist revolution will go on despite the brutal US sanctions aimed at blocking it.

Washington has made several failed attempts to bring down the government in Caracas, the latest of which was a coup d’état led by Juan Guaido, a US-backed opposition figure who abruptly declared himself “president” and tried in vain to make the armed forces turn their back on Maduro.


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