Last week, Facebook froze Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's page for violating policies against spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Now, the Venezuelan government has hit back at the social media giant accusing it of "digital totalitarianism".
Facebook told Reuters that it also took down a video in which Maduro promoted a Venezuelan-made remedy that he claimed could cure COVID-19, called Carvativir. Facebook said that the 30-day suspension of president Maduro’s account was in accordance with the guidance of the Worth Health Organisation's policies around the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.
In a statement on Sunday, the country’s information ministry said that the social media platform was going after "content geared toward combating the pandemic". Carvativir has been described as a retroviral of "national production and engineering."
It added, "We are witnessing a digital totalitarianism exercised by supranational companies who want to impose their law on the countries of the world."
Facebook and other social media companies have also come under fire in the United States for some of their policies and predatory practices. A spokesperson for Facebook said that the video had been taken down for “violating our (Facebook) policies against misinformation about COVID-19 that is likely to put people at risk for harm”.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The Venezuelan president has been at odds with American tech giants and the government after being accused of being a dictator by Washington and other Western nations. In the past, both the Democrat and Republican parties have expressed support for Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition on Venezuela who has advocated for the subversion of democracy, calling for a military coup to oust Maduro.
Meanwhile, the country is in a state of crisis that is a result of mishandling of the Economy by the Maduro government and crippling sanctions by the United States, which is adversely affected Venezuela’s poor and working-class people. The South American country has reported 155,663 cases of COVID-19 and 1,555 deaths, but opposition leaders say the number is likely higher.