Facebook Deletes Video From Brazilian President Who Falsely Said Vaccines Give People AIDS

Facebook Deletes Video From Brazilian President Who Falsely Said Vaccines Give People AIDS
File photo showing President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro coughing at Planalto Palace on December 9, 2020. (Photo: Andre Borges, Getty Images)

A bizarre video message from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted to Facebook on Friday was finally deleted early Monday morning because it was spreading misinformation about covid-19. What did Bolsonaro say in the video that could be so bad it needed to be deleted for breaking Facebook’s rules? Bolsonaro claimed in the video that covid-19 vaccines were giving people AIDS.

“People who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 are developing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome much faster than expected,” Bolsonaro said, according to an English translation by France 24.

Bolsonaro’s claim about vaccines being tied to AIDS comes from a debunked internet rumour going viral in anti-vaccine circles that supposedly cited the British government.

“I recommend you read the article,” Bolsonaro said in the now-deleted video, without explaining which article he was talking about.

But Bolsonaro clearly knew he was spreading bullshit, because he even noted that giving too much information about this conspiracy theory could lead to him getting banned from Facebook.

“I’m not going to read it here,” Bolsonaro said about the article, “because I don’t want to lose my Facebook live video.”

Why bother to mention the unnamed article then if you knew it was so garbage it would potentially get your video yanked? That part isn’t clear. But Bolsonaro, who contracted covid-19 but survived, has been a major impediment to getting Brazilians vaccinated against covid-19, the only thing that will stop the coronavirus pandemic in the long term.

Facebook did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment overnight and it’s not clear why it took so long for the video to be deleted if it was indeed against the social media giant’s terms of service.

Bolsonaro, a far-right ally of other authoritarians like Donald Trump, has been accused by Brazilian lawmakers of crimes against humanity for his response to the covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 606,000 people. Bolsonaro’s hostility to Brazil’s indigenous population and the needless death of indigenous people has been called out as especially egregious.

“Even before the pandemic, President Jair Bolsonaro commanded an anti-indigenous policy that deliberately exposed native peoples to a lack of assistance, harassment, land invasions and violence, with these acts of outright hostility intensifying … after the arrival of the virus,” the draft report says, according to a copy reviewed by the Guardian.

“By allowing the virus to proceed … he caused death and suffering remotely. The constant harassment and deliberate neglect, combined with the pandemic, were worse than weapons,” the report continues.

Brazil is averaging about 11,000 new covid-19 cases per day with a seven-day average of 334 new deaths per day. And while that’s much better than the U.S. is currently doing, Brazil also has a smaller population.

The U.S. reported over 105,500 new cases of covid-19 on Monday and 1,591 new deaths. The vast majority of those dying from covid-19 currently are the unvaccinated.