Twitter on Sunday permanently suspended the personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, after the company said it violated its Covid-19 disinformation policies.
Twitter suspended Ms Greene’s account after she mistakenly tweeted on Saturday about “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths”. It included a misleading chart that pulls information from a government database of unverified raw data called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, a decades-old system that relies on self-reported cases by patients and providers. health care.
Twitter said Ms Greene was the subject of a fifth “strike,” which meant her account would not be restored. The company had launched a fourth strike in August after it falsely announced that the vaccines “failed”. Ms Greene received a third strike less than a month before when she tweeted that Covid-19 was not dangerous and that vaccines should not be mandatory.
Ms. Greene’s official congressional account @RepMTG remains active because tweets from that account did not violate the service’s rules.
“We have made it clear that, in accordance with our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy,” Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough said in a statement. The company allows the accounts to appeal and will potentially revoke the suspension if the infringing post is proven to be factual.
On alternative social messaging platform Telegram, Ms. Greene said Twitter “is an enemy of America and cannot handle the truth.”
Its suspension comes as coronavirus cases have again spiked in the United States from the highly infectious variant of Omicron. New York state recorded more than 85,000 new cases of the coronavirus on the last day of 2021, the state’s highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, officials said on Saturday.
Twitter has long banned users from sharing false information that could cause harm. In rare instances, the company has permanently banned high-profile accounts, including the account of former President Donald J. Trump, due to a risk of “further incitement to violence” after a crowd of worshipers Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
There is currently no evidence of widespread major side effects from coronavirus vaccines. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could trigger a rare blood clotting disorder now linked to dozens of cases and at least nine deaths in the United States in the past year. The agency recommended using other approved vaccines instead.
The VAERS database, which is maintained by the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, has been cited in numerous coronavirus lies to push the idea that side effects from Covid-19 vaccines have been underreported.
An FDA spokesperson declined to comment, but pointed to a VAERS database preview on the FDA website that VAERS reports “generally cannot be used to determine whether a vaccine has caused or contributed to an adverse event or disease”.
In March, Twitter introduced a policy which explained the penalties for sharing lies about the virus and vaccines. People who violate this policy face increasing penalties called strikes and could face a permanent ban if they repeatedly share false information about the virus.
Ms Greene won Georgia’s 14th Congressional District primary election in August 2020, after rising to prominence by showing unwavering support for President Trump and QAnon, a movement linked to the baseless conspiracy theory that a bunch of global liberal elites are running a child sex ring that Mr. Trump would stop.
The coronavirus pandemic: what you need to know
Ms Greene has repeatedly posted the slogan QAnon on Facebook and Twitter and previously called “Q” – the anonymous online account that sparked the QAnon conspiracy movement – a “patriot” who “was worth listening to” . Last year, Ms Greene heavily promoted the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Mr Trump, tweeting in January that there had been “MASS electoral fraud on a scale that should terrify all Americans, regardless of their political party ”.
But it was Ms Greene’s false claims about the coronavirus, including opposition to vaccines and masks as tools to curb the pandemic, that ultimately suspended her from Twitter. In July, Ms Greene argued that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people unless they were obese or over the age of 65, and said vaccines should not be required.
In August, Ms. Greene said on Twitter: “The FDA should not approve covid vaccines.” She said there were too many reports of coronavirus infection and spread among those vaccinated, and the vaccines “fail” and “don’t reduce the spread of the virus and neither do the masks.”
the Centers for Disaster Control and PreventionCurrent guidelines state: “Covid-19 vaccines are effective against serious illness and death.”
Imran Ahmed, managing director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which posted research on the dozen most prominent social media influencers spreading misinformation about vaccines, said it was fitting for Ms Greene to describe her suspension as part of a model of Twitter measures to censor the Tories.
“In fact, it was for the banal reason that she is a super-spreader of lies” that Ms Greene was suspended, Mr Ahmed said.
He also criticized Twitter for not doing more to be consistent in its suspensions of prominent users posting disinformation. “While the suspension of Representative Greene’s account for spreading deadly disinformation appears to be a valid application of the stated rules, it is the piecemeal application that lends itself to be viewed as political,” Ahmed said. .