Twitter reportedly interfered with discussions regarding the coronavirus by censoring information that contradicted consecutive US administrations and suppressed experts who disagreed with official positions.
"The United States government pressured Twitter and other social media platforms to elevate certain content and suppress other content" about the virus, according to documents referred to as the Twitter Files, made public by Free Press reporter David Zweig.
Zweig said internal files he reviewed at Twitter showed the administrations of former President Donald Trump and incumbent Joe Biden "directly pressed Twitter executives to moderate the platform’s pandemic content according to their wishes."
At beginning of the outbreak, the Trump administration voiced concern about panic buying, according to the documents. "They came looking for 'help from the tech companies to combat misinformation' about 'runs on grocery stores.' But . . . there were runs on grocery stores," said Zweig.
But for the Biden administration, one of its first meeting requests with Twitter executives was about COVID-19, which Zweig said was about “anti-vaxxer accounts,” particularly citing former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson.
"In the summer of 2021, president Biden said social media companies were 'killing people' for allowing vaccine misinformation. Berenson was suspended hours after Biden’s comments, and kicked off the platform the following month," Zweig wrote on Twitter.
The Biden administration was "very angry" that Twitter had not been more aggressive in deplatforming multiple accounts.
"They wanted Twitter to do more," according to the documents.
But Zweig said Twitter executives did not fully capitulate to the Biden team’s wishes but suppressed views, many from doctors and scientific experts, that conflicted with official positions of the White House.
"As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing," he wrote.
According to another tweet, dissident content was labeled as misinformation and the accounts of doctors and others were suspended for tweeting opinions and demonstrably true information.
One example was cited from Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, who said in a tweet that vaccines are important for older high-risk people and those previously infected and children do not need them.
Kulldorff’s tweet, according to Twitter, violated the company’s COVID-19 misinformation policy and shared “false information.”
Kulldorff’s statement, which also happened to be in line with vaccine policies in other countries, was deemed “false information” by Twitter moderators merely because it differed from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, said Zweig.