by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Twitter’s leaders bowed to government pressure to censor information that was true but inconvenient, suspended medical professionals who disagreed with establishment views, and relied on bots and foreign contractors to moderate complex scientific topics, according to the newest edition of the Twitter Files.
Independent journalist David Zweig released the 40-tweet Twitter Files report — “How Twitter Rigged the Covid Debate” — on Monday. The report is based on internal Twitter files that Zweig reviewed for the Free Press. The Twitter Files is a series of reports based on internal Twitter documents released to select journalists by the company’s new CEO, Elon Musk.
Zweig reported Monday that both the Biden and Trump administrations pressured Twitter and other social-media platforms to elevate content that fit their narratives and to suppress information that didn’t. At the outset of the pandemic, the Trump administration urged tech companies to “combat misinformation” about “runs on grocery stores,” Zweig reported.
“But,” Zweig noted, “there were runs on grocery stores.” It wasn’t misinformation but was instead a true phenomenon the Trump administration did not want to be highlighted.
When Joe Biden took over as president, his administration was concerned about “anti-vaxxer accounts,” and particularly the account of journalist Alex Berenson, Zweig reported.
Berenson’s Twitter account was suspended hours after Biden alleged that social-media companies were “killing people” for allowing vaccine misinformation. Berenson later sued and eventually settled with Twitter.
Zweig reported that Biden’s team was “very angry” that Twitter hadn’t been more aggressive at de-platforming accounts that it didn’t approve of.
“An extensive review of internal communications at the company revealed employees often debating moderation cases in great deal, and with more care than was shown by the government toward free speech,” Zweig reported.
But, Zweig reported, Twitter did suppress views, including the views of doctors and scientific experts whose opinions “conflicted with the official position of the White House,” “differed from CDC guidelines,” or were “contrarian but true.”