SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter announced Monday that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene would be suspended from her duty for 12 hours after posting news that violated her policy on disclosing misleading information about the coronavirus.
Ms. Greene, a Republican from Georgia, was a staunch opponent of vaccines and masks as a means of containing the pandemic. In tweets on Sunday and Monday, she argued that Covid-19 is not dangerous for people unless they are obese or over 65 and said vaccines shouldn’t be required.
But cases of the coronavirus are on the rise, and the highly contagious Delta variant accounts for more than half of all new infections in the United States, federal health officials said this month. In Ms. Greene’s home state of Georgia, new cases have increased 193 percent in the past two weeks.
Twitter said Ms. Greene’s tweets were misinformation and banned her from duty until Tuesday. “We have initiated enforcement measures against the account @mtgreenee for violating the Twitter rules, in particular the misleading Covid-19 information guidelines,” said a Twitter spokesman. The company also added labels to Ms. Greene’s posts about the vaccines, calling them “misleading” and pointing out information about the safety of the vaccines.
In a statement, Ms. Greene said Silicon Valley companies are working with the White House to attack freedom of expression. “These big tech companies are doing the Biden regime’s commandments to restrict our voices and prevent the distribution of messages that are not state-approved,” she said.
Twitter took action after President Biden urged social media companies to do more to combat the spread of vaccine misinformation on their platforms. On Friday, Mr Biden said sites like Facebook “kill people” by allowing misinformation to flourish unchallenged, adding, “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that – and they are killing people . “
His statement ended weeks of frustration in the White House over the spread of online misinformation that resulted in hesitant vaccination, health officials say.
Facebook, which took the brunt of the criticism, argued that Mr Biden’s testimony was unfounded. “The Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, in a blog post on Saturday. “The fact is that the adoption of vaccines by Facebook users in the US has increased.”
On Monday, the president tempered his criticism, saying that it was not Facebook but certain users who were responsible for the spread of misinformation. The company should do more to combat “the outrageous misinformation” spreading on its platform rather than taking what it says is a personal insult, added Mr Biden.
Twitter has long banned users from sharing misinformation about the coronavirus that could cause harm. In March, the company rolled out a policy explaining penalties for sharing lies about the virus and vaccines.
July 19, 2021, 9:32 p.m. ET
“We have seen the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric that is baseless in research or credible reporting, and a wide range of baseless rumors that, out of context, can deter the public from making informed decisions about their health and individuals, families, and others communities at risk, “the company said in its policy against the disclosure of Covid misinformation.
Individuals who violate this policy are subject to escalating penalties known as strikes and could face a permanent ban if they repeatedly spread misinformation about the virus. A twelve-hour ban, as Ms. Greene learns, is Twitter’s response to users who have either two or three strikes. After four strikes, Twitter bans users for seven days, and after five strikes, Twitter bans the user altogether.
Other Republicans who have been banned from Twitter have complained that the social media company is censoring them.
In January, President Donald J. Trump banned Twitter after the company found his social media posts played a role in inciting violence during the riot in the U.S. Capitol. Mr Trump has argued that Twitter and Facebook, which also blocked his account, censored him, saying the companies need government oversight.
Ms. Greene had previously been banned from Twitter in April, but the company said it was a bug caused by one of its automated spam and abuse detection systems.
“Everyone knows this is a LIE and it wasn’t a mistake,” Ms. Greene tweeted after her suspension was lifted.