Has the government pressured Twitter to reduce the speech?

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Last month, Covid vaccine skeptic Alex Berenson was allowed to return to Twitter after he was “permanently” suspended for allegedly violating the platform’s Covid-19 “misinformation” policy. Remarkably, Twitter acknowledged that his tweets “shouldn’t have led” to his suspension.

Now, new internal Twitter documents made public by Berenson reveal that the Biden administration likely played a central role in his suspension. As one Twitter employee reported on the company’s internal Slack messaging system, the company was faced with “a really tough question about why Alex Berenson wasn’t kicked off the platform. form” during a meeting at the White House in April 2021. Another employee reported that Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to President Biden’s Covid response team, claimed he had seen evidence indicating that Berenson was “the epicenter of misinformation that radiated to the persuasive public”.

In the summer of 2021, the federal government repeatedly pressured social media platforms to step up their efforts to crack down on Covid “misinformation”. On July 16, 2021, Biden claimed social media companies were “killing people” by not censoring Covid misinformation. Hours after Biden’s comment, Twitter suspended Berenson’s account for the first time. The following month, Twitter banned it after he tweeted about the vaccine’s inability to stop long-term transmission and infection and its side effect profile.

Berenson, who now plans to sue the White House after his recent legal success against Twitter, is the most prominent victim of the brutal policies of social media companies, but many distinguished scientists with far less public and financial support have met fates similar.

Tracy Beth Hoeg, a consultant epidemiologist for the Florida Department of Health, faced penalties for warning about post-vaccination myocarditis in young men. In June 2021, for example, Twitter labeled “misleadingone of his tweets which stated – citing data released by the CDC – that post-vaccination myocarditis rates were “above baseline”. Last April, Twitter suspended Hoeg for simply criticize the platform’s decision to add a ‘misleading’ label to an Oxford bioethicist Tweeter which directly quoted a peer-reviewed Israeli study that found a correlation between mass vaccination and acute cardiac events. Twitter reinstated Hoeg on the platform weeks later, but offered no justification for his initial suspension.

Anish Koka, owner of a leading cardiology clinic in Philadelphia, encountered a similar situation earlier this month for simply tweeting a link to Sanjay Verma’s “comprehensive review” of post-vaccination myocarditis ( Verma is an interventional cardiologist, with 17 years of experience). Twitter has suspended Koka for “violating the policy of spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19”. Twitter reinstated Koka’s account a few days later after deciding that deleting the tweet would be more productive than trying to protest the decision behind the scenes.

Andrew Bostom, a medical researcher and former professor at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, remains banned from Twitter and is threatening legal action. Twitter originally suspended him in June for tweeting a peer-reviewed study that found a temporary reduction in sperm count after vaccination. “Alex Berenson’s attorney stepped in and Twitter was forced to admit their mistake,” he said in an email interview. His reinstatement was short-lived, however, as Twitter accused him of again violating its misinformation policy by tweeting references to scientific analyzes of data regarding the use of vaccines in adults and children.

In many other cases, social media platforms chastised scientists simply for asking questions about vaccines or citing peer-reviewed studies. But even more troubling than the obvious bias of anti-dissent platforms against the mainstream discourse on public health is the federal government’s attempt, as seen in Berenson’s case, to define the parameters of an acceptable scientific debate.

Photo by AMY OSBORNE/AFP via Getty Images

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