Twitter Drops COVID-19 Misinformation Policy, Elon Musk Promises Restoration of Suspended Accounts
As part of new owner Elon Musk’s pro-free speech agenda for the platform, Twitter has dropped its COVID-19 misinformation policy. Twitter has reportedly said that it will no longer enforce its long-standing Covid misinformation policy, which is yet another indication of how Elon Musk intends to transform the social media company he purchased a month ago.
Twitter created a comprehensive set of rules in 2020 to prohibit “harmful misinformation” about the virus and its vaccines. According to Twitter statistics, between January 2020 and September 2022, more than 11,000 accounts were suspended for violating Covid misinformation rules, and nearly 100,000 pieces of content were removed. The policy was praised by medical professionals: Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, cited Twitter’s rules as an example of what companies should do to combat misinformation in an advisory to technology platforms.
The rule change did not appear to have been formally announced by Twitter. Instead, some Twitter users noticed a note added to the page on Twitter’s website that outlines its Covid policy on Monday night. The note stated, “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy.” The news was first reported by CNN . It is still unclear what specific measures will Twitter drop.
Musk has promised that many previously banned Twitter accounts will be restored as soon as this week. According to technology newsletter Platformer, Twitter employees are working towards restoring more than 62,000 suspended accounts. Musk used Twitter in March and April 2020 to downplay the severity of the crisis and express dissatisfaction with how the pandemic was handled. He repeatedly urged the repeal of stay-at-home policies, despite public health officials’ insistence at the time that social isolation was still required to avoid a wave of infections that could overwhelm hospitals.
The CEO went off script during a Tesla earnings call with Wall Street analysts in April 2020 to rail against Covid policies. He said that in his opinion, it was ‘forcibly imprisoning people in their homes,’ and violating the freedom of people and that was not why people came to America or built the country.
The billionaire claims to have had Covid twice. Despite his skepticism of public health policy, he has stated his support for vaccination, even if he believes the shots should not be mandated. Nonetheless, he stated in a September 2020 New York Times podcast interview with technology journalist Kara Swisher that he would not get vaccinated because he was not “at risk for Covid,” and neither were his children. When Swisher confronted Musk with the possibility that many people would die if public health recommendations were not followed, he responded bluntly: “Everybody dies.”
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