Another ‘Twitter Files’ Doc Dump Fails to Make Its Government Censorship Case: COVID Edition

Since his $44 billion fiasco to take over Twitter, Elon Musk has demonstrated just how idiotic a wealthy narcissist can be. He has fumbled every step of the way, antagonizing the most critical components of success in social media: users and advertisers.

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Among his many missteps, Musk dispatched a crew of crackpots on a mission to malign Twitter’s prior management and to contrive a conspiracy theory that they were colluding with the government to bring down Donald Trump and censor conservative opinions. But after ten releases of what he calls the “Twitter Files” (which are actually improperly disclosed private communications by Twitter staffers), Musk has not only failed to prove his allegations, he has effectively proven that Twitter’s previous content moderation practices were entirely appropriate and fairly considered.

RELATED: OH-MY: Trump Unleashes Vile Threats in Tantrum Over Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ Farce

The tenth episode of the “Twitter Files” fairy tales focuses on how Twitter conducted content moderation with regard to the COVID pandemic and the misinformation that erupted from rightist virus deniers. As usual, the contention by Musk’s designated toady, David Zweig, is that the U.S. government applied untoward pressure on Twitter to suppress the opinions of pro-COVID nutcases and anti-vaxxers. He began with the explicit claim that…

“The United States government pressured Twitter and other social media platforms to elevate certain content and suppress other content about Covid-19.”

Nowhere in the subsequent 41 tweet discharge did Zweig support that claim. To the contrary, he repeatedly posted emails that showed Twitter’s Trust and Safety staff acting appropriately. In tweet #9 Zweig noted that…

“In the summer of 2021, president Biden said social media companies were “killing people” for allowing vaccine misinformation. [Alex] Berenson was suspended hours after Biden’s comments, and kicked off the platform the following month.”

Zweig’s apparent purpose here was to associate Biden’s remarks with Twitter’s actions. But he offers nothing to support that inference. Biden was quite right that the COVID deniers, led by Trump and hacks like Berenson (who is not a doctor or scientist) were indeed inflating the mortality rate of the pandemic. Zweig followed that up by saying that…

“[Twitter exec Lauren] Culbertson wrote that the Biden team was “very angry” that Twitter had not been more aggressive in deplatforming multiple accounts. They wanted Twitter to do more.”

Once again, Zweig is making an unsupported connection between the rational opinions of the Biden administration and the actions by Twitter. It isn’t the least bit surprising that public health officials would want social media to help reduce the harm of a deadly pandemic. Which is all that Culbertson was saying. However, in the very next tweet Zweig contradicts his government overlord allegations by conceding that Twitter didn’t “capitulate” to the Biden team. In other words, there was no evidence of government/Twitter censorship collusion.

A few tweets later Zweig attempted to provide an example of government censorship, but once again, his example was utterly devoid of any relevant substance…

“Exhibit A: Dr. Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, tweeted views at odds with US public health authorities and the American left, the political affiliation of nearly the entire staff at Twitter.”

Setting aside Zweig’s biased and baseless view of the political affiliations of Twitter’s staff, his “Exhibit A” was based on a thoroughly biased source. Kulldorff was an advocate of herd immunity (allowing people to get infected, which would lead to more fatalities) and was affiliated with ultra-rightist think tanks. He opposed proven mitigation efforts such as masking and social distancing, and claimed that vaccines caused more harm than good. Zweig continued praising the quack doctor saying that…

“But Kulldorff’s statement was an expert’s opinion—one which also happened to be in line with vaccine policies in numerous other countries. Yet it was deemed “false information” by Twitter moderators merely because it differed from CDC guidelines.”

Apparently Zweig thinks that opinions, just by being in line with unnamed other countries, makes them scientifically valid and equivalent to the determinations of U.S. experts who, by the way, consider valid science from experts worldwide. Then Zweig wrapped up his tweetstorm by concluding that…

“Twitter made a decision, via the political leanings of senior staff, and govt pressure, that the public health authorities’ approach to the pandemic – prioritizing mitigation over other concerns – was ‘The Science'”

Once again, Zweig failed to establish any “political leanings of senior staff” or the presence of any “govt pressure.” But he does seem to be dismissing the value of “prioritizing mitigation over other concerns.” What “other concerns” might he be thinking about? Corporate profits? Political exploitation? For the record, “prioritizing mitigation” means curtailing the spread of the virus and saving lives. Which are objectives that neither Zweig, nor Musk, nor Trump, seemed to care very much about.

Finally, Zweig asked “What might this pandemic and its aftermath have looked like if there had been a more open debate on Twitter?” By which he means more dissemination of misinformation. And it’s pretty clear that it would have looked a lot worse to those who were lucky enough to survive.


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