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Mark Zuckerberg slams Trump administration response to COVID-19

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak in an interview he hosted Thursday with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"At this point, it is clear that the trajectory in the U.S. is significantly worse than in many countries and that our government and this administration have been considerably less effective in handling this," Zuckerberg said in the nearly one-hour livestream on Facebook. "I personally think we ought to take this a lot more seriously."

Zuckerberg contrasted the surge in U.S. virus cases with the disease's trajectory in other developed countries, where caseloads have decreased or stayed relatively low.

"While every other developed country in the world, or almost every other country, has had a relatively smaller number of new infections, we now face a record number of new infections every day," Zuckerberg said.

Dr. Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated the importance of avoiding large crowds, practicing social distancing and covering one's face in public.

Dr. Fauci also noted that some states and cities ignored official guidelines for reopening, sometimes lifting restrictions on people and businesses too early. In other instances, people ignored official guidelines to maintain proper social distance and wear masks, he said.

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"I think you might be quite generous in your description of the government's response here," Zuckerberg responded, alluding to the administration's recent efforts to undermine Dr. Fauci's credibility and reluctance to promote mask-wearing.  

"It was avoidable and it's really disappointing that we still don't have adequate testing, that the credibility of our top scientists like yourself and the CDC are being undermined, and until recently, that parts of the administration were calling into question whether people should even follow basic best practices like wearing masks," he said. 

Zuckerberg's blunt criticism is a departure from his typically more reserved remarks about the Trump administration. The Facebook CEO has said he disagrees with President Donald Trump personally. But he has defended the president's right to post statements that critics say are derogatory or encourage violence, with Zuckerberg arguing against placing limits on free expression. 

Still, Facebook has recently removed two posts from the Trump reelection campaign — one for violating a policy against organized hate and another for including misinformation about the 2020 Census.

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When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook has cracked down on hoaxes and false information. It has removed content spreading misinformation or conspiracy theories and warned people who "like" posts that are deemed to be false

In March, the company built an information center to direct users to "authoritative information" about the virus. It has also launched a feature called "Facts about COVID-19" intended to debunk common myths, such as that drinking bleach can prevent the virus. 

And starting this week, Facebook is expanding reminders to wear face coverings to more countries. The company began showing these alerts on U.S. users' Facebook and Instagram feeds earlier this month.

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