Twitter temporarily suspended the account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene late Monday in response to her Covid-19 tweets claiming the virus was “not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” The Georgia congresswoman has also pushed anti-vaxx claims about coronavirus vaccines, calling the host of vaccines that are currently saving tens of thousands American lives “controversial.” The looniest of America’s new corps of Republican disbelievers in Congress is an active spreader of nonsense on social media platforms of all sorts and this week Twitter decided it had had enough, labelling the tweets misleading, a violation of its terms of service, and instituting a twelve-hour ban on the Georgia Republican’s account.
In March, as part of an effort to curtail Covid-19 misinformation superspreaders like Taylor Greene, the company instituted a new policy on virus and vaccine misinformation. “We’ve observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric unfounded in research or credible reporting, and a wide range of unsubstantiated rumors, which left uncontextualized can prevent the public from making informed decisions regarding their health, and puts individuals, families and communities at risk,” the company said in its policy against sharing Covid misinformation. “People who violate that policy are subject to escalating punishments known as strikes and could face a permanent ban if they repeatedly share misinformation about the virus,” the New York Times reports. “A 12-hour ban, like the one Ms. Greene is experiencing, is Twitter’s response to users who have either two or three strikes. After four strikes, Twitter suspends users for seven days, and after five strikes, Twitter bars the user altogether.”
Taylor Greene’s suspension comes as the White House has called on social media companies to do more to combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation that is leading to vaccine hesitancy. The current surge in cases of the Delta variant, which is more contagious, is tearing through unvaccinated parts of the country that skew conservative and are now skeptical of vaccination, as well as of the dangers of the virus itself. In Greene’s home state of Georgia, for instance, new cases are up 193 percent in the past two weeks. Nationwide, the trendline of Covid-19 cases has once again tipped upward, as has the number of hospitalizations and deaths, almost all of which are occurring in unvaccinated communities.
For more on how conservative pressure on COVID has affected vaccination rates and hurt public health officials, listen to this episode of What Next.