The White House isn’t the only one cracking down on misinformation, as conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines continue to spread online. Twitter reportedly suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s account again, this time for one week, after the GOP official (again) posted misleading “information” about COVID-19 vaccines.
Greene tweeted Monday evening that she believes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “should not approve” the existing COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that they are “failing & do not reduce the spread” of the coronavirus. The cherry on top? She says, “neither do masks.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current guidance states, “COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick.” Additionally, research has proven that wearing masks significantly decreases the spread of COVID-19. The CDC website has this to say about masks:
“COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you or they may breathe these droplets in. [...] Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.”
Last year, Twitter began adding disclaimers to tweets that contained information that might be inaccurate. As a result, Greene’s tweet also has a disclaimer noting that the “tweet may be misleading,” in addition to a link to COVID-19 information. The tweet has not been deleted.
While Greene claims there have been too many reports of infection and spread amongst vaccinated people, data from the CDC shows that of the so-called breakthrough infections that have been reported among the fully vaccinated, serious cases are extremely rare. Additionally, current reports indicate that 90% of COVID-19 related deaths are among unvaccinated people.
Greene’s tweet follows a surge in hospitalizations of unvaccinated people nationwide. Vaccines have been proven to be the most effective way to curb the spread of the coronavirus and the highly contagious delta variant, with many deaths being deemed avoidable had the individuals been vaccinated.
According to The New York Times, in Greene’s home state of Georgia, new cases have increased by 171 percent in the past two weeks. Only 39% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.
In a statement obtained by CNN, a Twitter spokesperson said the congresswoman’s account will be in “read-only mode” for a week due to “repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.”
According to Twitter’s website, read-only entails the following:
"If it seems like an otherwise healthy account is in the middle of an abusive episode, we might temporarily make their account read-only, limiting their ability to Tweet, Retweet, or Like content until calmer heads prevail. The person can read their timelines and will only be able to send Direct Messages to their followers.”
This is the second time the platform took action against Greene. Earlier this year in June, Greene's accounted was suspended for 12 hours, also for COVID-19 misinformation. In that tweet, she claimed that COVID-19 was “not dangerous” for people who are not obese or are under the age of 65.
Other comments Greene has made include comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust and refusing to accept that Donald Trump lost the election among other conspiracy theories of voter fraud.
Twitter has a five-strike policy on COVID-19 misinformation, a fourth strike results in a temporary seven-day suspension.
In response to her suspension, Greene issued a statement Tuesday defending her comments.
“I have vaccinated family who are sick with COVID. Studies and news reports show vaccinated people are still getting COVID and spreading COVID,” the congresswoman said, claiming she had spoken with “numerous people” who have reported “scary side effects” from vaccines, including myocarditis, blood clots, and miscarriages.
“In my opinion, the FDA should not approve these vaccines until more research is done,” she continued. “But Twitter suspended me for speaking the truth, and tweeting what so many people are saying.”
But that wasn’t all, because of course. In addition to defending herself, Greene called COVID-19 a "Communist Chinese bioweapon" and also took the opportunity to criticize National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci—the nation’s leading coronavirus expert and long-time epidemiologist—for “harshly criticizing” bikers at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
According to Daily Kos, data tracking found that 61% of counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who was at Sturgis. This was a superspreader event by every metric.
“But if I dare say the truth, Twitter suspends me because the truth is so offensive to the fragile hypocrites all over Twitter!” she said.
According to The New York Times, for the first time since February, the United States is averaging more than 100,000 new cases a day. Infections and hospitalizations are increasing rapidly as the delta variant spreads—mainly among the unvaccinated. Almost all COVID-19 deaths nationwide are unvaccinated individuals. While vaccination rates have slowly increased, they are still low. The CDC recommends all people wear masks in public enclosed spaces, whether or not they are vaccinated.