Written by Hudson Crozier
Under former President Donald Trump: The White House held meetings with Twitter, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and others during the outbreak of COVID-19. Officials wanted censorship of “misinformation” regarding mass panic buying at grocery stores even though it was actually happening.
Under President Joe Biden: The White House pressured Twitter to ban COVID vaccine skeptics, most notably writer Alex Berenson, who sued and reached a settlement with the platform after being suspended. One employee described officials as “very angry” that it hadn’t banned enough accounts throughout 2022.
How the censorship worked: Much of Twitter’s content moderation was conducted by contractors and bots. They often banned COVID-related content based on overly simplistic standards, especially bots, which relied on AI and machine learning. Employees occasionally intervened in more complex cases to see if a tweet violated Twitter’s terms of service.
Denying reality: Many of the “misleading” tweets that Twitter users were punished for have now been proven true, including statements about mask and vaccine efficacy, vaccine side effects, and transmission rates among the vaccinated population. Some banned tweets featured insight from medical experts, published studies, and data from the CDC.