Latest episode of the Twitter Files: COVID 'misinformation'

The latest installment of Twitter Files dropped today as a slightly late Christmas present from independent journalist David Zweig. This batch may wind up being the best yet in terms of demonstrating the Biden administration’s direct and deliberate intervention in the social media platform’s “content moderation” activities and the censorship of speech, particularly when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Zweig didn’t only find intervention by Joe Biden’s team. Donald Trump’s White House was also getting in on the action.

Google, Facebook, and Microsft, along with Twitter attended weekly meetings with the people from Trump’s White House to discuss content that needed to be shut down. Trump asked Twitter to suppress “misinformation” on a variety of hot topics, including the proliferation of 5G cell towers, panic buying and runs on grocery stores. Tweets about those topics were suppressed or deleted in great numbers and some users’ accounts were suspended.

The crazy thing about those episodes is that all three subjects turned out to be valid subjects of debate. We still don’t have any hard proof of potential health impacts from 5G, but we do know that the towers interfered with older altimeters in commercial aircraft. As far as all of the panic buying and runs on stores in the early days of the lockdowns, those things actually happened. Trump’s team just didn’t want people talking about it because of the bad political optics.

After Joe Biden was sworn in, the first White House meeting with Twitter focused on COVID-19 “misinformation.” They immediately put pressure on Twitter to deplatform Alex Berenson, a frequent critic of the administration’s policies and CDC “science.” Biden specifically called Berenson out in public, saying that social media was “killing people” by allowing Berenson to speak. He was suspended within hours and his account was deleted the following month.

Lauren Culbertson, Twitter’s Head of U.S. Public Policy wrote that the Biden administration was “very angry” that more accounts posting about COVID were not suspended. The White House was applying blatant and obvious pressure on them to censor or deplatform more people if they didn’t toe the administration’s line.

The documents showed that while Twitter denied some content moderation demands (“showing more concern for free speech than the White House”), they canceled a lot of other accounts, including those of doctors and scientific experts if they conflicted with the company line coming from the CDC. As we now know, many of those outside experts turned out to be correct and the CDC got many things wrong.

Some content moderation was outsourced to contractors in places like the Philipines, assigning people with no scientific expertise in matters such as cardiac complications or mask efficacy to make moderation decisions. This led to what Zweig charitably described as “a significant error rate.” The individuals at Twitter HQ who made the final decisions on suspensions and suppression demonstrated what is described as being “bent heavily toward establishment dogma.”

In one of the most bizarre exchanges, Jim Baker, Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel (and former FBI honcho) demanded to know why telling people to not be afraid of COVID wasn’t a bannable offense. Noel Roth (of all people) had to explain that “optimism isn’t misinformation.”

There are so many more examples of people, including acknowledged medical and scientific experts having their tweets flagged or their accounts suspended, simply for offering professional opinions that differed from the CDC narrative. And they were often later proven to be correct. 

None of this White House “influence” on content moderation at Twitter was subtle. It wasn’t a case (as the FBI has tried to claim) of the government “providing information” to Twitter and leaving it up to the company to decide. They were specifically calling out individual tweets and accounts, expressing the President’s “anger,” and demanding action. It was flat-out participation in and even direction of censorship of citizens participating in the most critical debate of that time. And this was all an obvious violation of the First Amendment on the part of the Biden White House. 

So who can hold them accountable and how might that happen? Stay tuned.

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