Twitter has “censored” high-profile figures, including a Stanford professor who warned of the possible adverse effects of Covid lockdowns, according to internal company data shared by Elon Musk.
Bari Weiss, a former New York Times columnist, released a second installment of the “Twitter Files” on Thursday evening, posting images of accounts Twitter allegedly placed on various types of “blacklists.”
The majority of accounts, the reporter said, belonged to conservative and far-right users.
Dr Jay Bhattacharya, professor of health policy at Stanford University, argued on the social media site in 2020 that prolonged absences from school, economic disruption and forced isolation of older people during the pandemic would cause long-term damage.
According to Weiss, “teams of Twitter employees are blacklisting, blocking disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limiting the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics – all in secret, without letting users know.” .
Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and former chief executive, previously denied the company’s restricted accounts with “some political views”.
Dr Bhattacharya has studied the coronavirus pandemic since its inception. In 2020 the professor co-wrote the Great Barrington Statement, an open letter questioning the effectiveness of Covid lockdowns.
Other health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, condemned the statement and called the proposed herd immunity document “nonsense and very dangerous.” “.
The release of the “Twitter Files” comes just over a month after Mr Musk acquired the social media company.
The billionaire, who has vowed to turn Twitter into a ‘free speech’ platform, shared a trove of internal documents with Ms Weiss and another freelance journalist, Matt Taibbi, in an apparent effort to show that moderation content under the previous leadership was biased against the political right.
All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world.
I have decided to stop using Twitter, given their recent policy change that will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) December 9, 2022
According to screenshots shared by Ms Weiss, Fox News’ Dan Bongino was ‘wanted’ and activist Charlie Kirk of the conservative student movement Turning Point USA was blacklisted. an internal “do not amplify” notice.
“I’m still trying to deal with my emotions learning that @twitter has blacklisted me,” tweeted Indian-born Dr Bhattacharya, who is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. “The thought that will keep me awake tonight: censorship of scientific discussion has enabled policies such as school closures and a generation of children have been hurt.
“The purpose of modern censorship is not to prevent people from hearing an idea. It is to delegitimize the idea in the mind of the public, and to excommunicate the heretic who has dared to express it from good society and from the public square.
He then expressed his gratitude to Twitter’s new chief executive.
Mr Musk wrote on his account on Thursday evening: ‘As @bariweiss clearly describes, the rules were enforced against the right, but not against the left.’
However, some users have pointed out that Ms. Weiss’ description of “shadowbanning” of Twitter’s internal moderation policy appears to align with Mr. Musk’s recently announced approach to content moderation on the site.
“Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of scope. Negativity should and will have less scope than positivity,” he tweeted on December 2.
Sir Elton John also announced on Friday that he will no longer use Twitter following a change in its policy which he says will “allow misinformation to thrive unchecked”.
Mr Musk said he was granting “amnesty” to suspended accounts, which experts say will lead to increased harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The 75-year-old musician said on Twitter: “All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world. “