Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) has not shied away from controversy since taking office in January, and she frequently expresses her views on contentious issues.
On Monday, the freshman congresswoman took to Twitter to express her belief that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should not approve Covid-19 vaccines because they were “failing” and ineffective at reducing virus spread.
The congresswoman was suspended from Twitter for a week as a result of her recent post, according to Forbes.
“The FDA should not approve the covid vaccines. There are too many reports of infection & spread of #COVID19 among vaccinated people. These vaccines are failing & do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks. Vaccine mandates & passports violate individual freedoms,” she posted from her official account (@mtgreenee).
The FDA should not approve the covid vaccines.
There are too many reports of infection & spread of #COVID19 among vaccinated people.
These vaccines are failing & do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks.
Vaccine mandates & passports violate individual freedoms.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) August 10, 2021
Twitter responded shortly after the tweet was posted on Monday evening by posting “This Tweet may be misleading. Get the latest preventative measures and COVID-19.”
A company spokespersonMonday, and added that the tweet “was labeled in line with our COVID-19 misleading information policy. The account will be in read-only mode for a week due to repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.”
It is the third and most severe penalty imposed by the social media platform on Greene for spreading false information.
She was previously suspended from the microblogging service for 12 hours in January for spreading unfounded conspiracy theories about the Georgia senate runoff elections, and for another 12 hours in July for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines.
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Greene was temporarily suspended in March, but was later reinstated after Twitter stated that its automated system had acted in error.
There is a continuing debate about what should be permitted to be posted on social media, particularly by elected officials. However, when it comes to posting information about Covid-19, Twitter has very specific guidelines.
, this includes, “Content that is demonstrably false or misleading and may lead to significant risk of harm (such as increased exposure to the virus, or adverse effects on public health systems) may not be shared on Twitter. This includes sharing content that may mislead people about the nature of the COVID-19 virus; the efficacy and/or safety of preventative measures, treatments, or other precautions to mitigate or treat the disease; official regulations, restrictions, or exemptions pertaining to health advisories; or the prevalence of the virus or risk of infection or death associated with COVID-19. In addition, we may label Tweets which share misleading information about COVID-19 to reduce their spread and provide additional context.”
Greene clearly violated those terms.
“To start with, she has the right to say what she wants, but at the same time Twitter has the right to respond,” explained Chris Haynes, associate professor of political science and national security at the University of New Haven.
“In this case, the consequences of what she said could put people at risk, it could result in greater hospitalization and could result in greater government expenditures if more people get sick,” Haynes added.
As previously stated, this was Greene’s “third strike,” and in the previous two instances, she was barred from posting for only 12 hours. This time, the punishment was a week in jail.
“You could actually argue that it is a little light in terms of punishment,” explained Haynes. “Twitter needs to take a longer look at its policies and perhaps take into context the type of misinformation or even disinformation that was being posted.”
Clearly, much of what is shared on social media is personal opinion rather than vetted insight from expert sources. In Greene’s case, she didn’t cite any studies or provide any evidence to back up her claims.
“This is really the heart of the problem,” said Haynes. “Political elites have really discounted expertise and no longer use sources to back up the claims they make. This is really quite different from friends discussing an issue like this around the water cooler, and it is much worse when elected officials say something that is then broadcast to the masses via social media.”
So the question is whether social media companies should address the spread of such false information – and whether we will see more bans, possibly for extended periods?
“Facebook, Twitter and the other platforms still need to come to terms on this,” said Haynes. “But it is really about what the explosion of the Internet in general has meant for the spread of misinformation.”