Social media platforms have strayed from their stated roles as a digital town hall and a visible source of information by promoting a false narrative. Twitter censorship contributed to destructive pandemic policies and is criminal, says former white house COVID adviser.
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Former White House COVID adviser Dr. Scott Atlas called the recently exposed suppression that has afflicted Twitter in recent years “criminal” since it enabled “lies to be imposed on the public” during a pandemic that caused enormous harm globally.
“When correct science policy is blocked, people die, and people died from the censorship,” said Atlas, a special coronavirus adviser under the Trump administration and contributor to The Epoch Times, in an interview.
Atlas was speaking just days after Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, disclosed troves of internal information revealing how the previous Twitter staff created a blacklist to reduce the visibility of unfavored tweets without the awareness of individuals using the platform. Among those tagged was Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, whose tweet opposing pandemic lockdowns immediately after joining the platform last August landed him on the “trends blacklist,” preventing his tweets from being amplified.
However, Atlas claims that such revelations are “only the tip of the iceberg.”
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“There’s a far larger story here that we need to hear,” he said, which he considers “far more nefarious and more systemic than isolated tweets being pulled down.”
“This seems to be criminal behavior, and I think it needs to be investigated in the courts,” he said.
The Censorship of 2020
Atlas wants to bring the audience back to 2020, when health officials implemented COVID-19 lockdowns all over the country, imitating the Chinese Communist Party.
In November of that same year, while Atlas was still a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Twitter removed his post disputing the efficacy of mask use in preventing the virus’ spread. Supporters of the measures, such as Dr. Deborah Birx, a fellow task force member, applauded the move.
“One would think that the American public should hear what the adviser to the president is saying during the pandemic of 2020. Yet Twitter decided to simply block that discussion from the public,” he said.
In August, President Donald Trump also had a video taken down from Facebook and Twitter for saying that kids are “almost immune” to COVID-19. Facebook announced in the same month that during the second quarter of 2020, it had removed 7 million items of content it had classified to be COVID-19 misinformation.
Several studies discovered that children and teenagers had a far decreased risk of contracting or dying from COVID-19, especially with the development of novel variants, despite the fact that most states had a mask mandate until early this year. However, the “censorship of 2020,” whether it was the removal of specific tweets, the suspension of accounts, or the banning of post amplification, had already done its damage.
“When decisions were being made in 2020 and imposed upon the public, that’s when censorship counted the most,” Atlas said.
Atlas claimed that the lack of alternate ideas manipulated not only the population but also government officials.
“It created this illusion that there was a consensus among science and public health policy experts that lockdowns should be imposed; it created and perpetrated lies that if you were opposed to lockdowns, you were choosing the economy over lives, and that if you were opposed to lockdowns, you were somehow calling for letting the infection spread without any mitigation whatsoever,” he said.
“They absolutely contributed to policies that killed massive numbers of people and destroyed children and low-income people, who are the most vulnerable. That’s why it’s criminal.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Atlas has been a vociferous critic of COVID-19 lockdowns, arguing that “targeted protection was the logical, safer, and ethical way to manage the pandemic.” He published a piece in May 2020 for The Hill in which he expressed concern about the “millions of years of life” that such policies will rob Americans of.
Aside from the learning loss, the pandemic restrictions made it necessary for young people to continue their education remotely, which resulted in a rise in child abuse, drug overdoses, mental health problems, and obesity.
According to Atlas, America’s social media and traditional media, along with inept policymakers and ignorant university professors, “have left a sinful legacy of damage,” which is the cause of the general lack of trust in public health organizations, on which the public relies for guidance in emergency situations.
Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, recently claimed that his “biggest mistake” during his tenure there was to “invest in building tools for us to manage the public conversation, versus building tools for the people using Twitter to easily manage it for themselves,” a decision he said has “burdened the company with too much power.”
Musk announced the termination of the COVID-19 “misleading information” policy late last month, which culminated in the removal of 100,000 pieces of content from the platform and the suspension of over 11,000 accounts.
Atlas appreciated the gesture but believed that more people needed to “rise up”—his term for speaking up and effecting real change.
“There should be a public outrage that is massive,” he said.
He believes that those who were elected to represent the American people have not done their duty.
“Where are our elected officials in this, where are they?” he asked. “If they can’t act, simply for ensuring free speech, they should all step down.”
‘Distortion’ Around Vaccine Mandates
People who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are significantly more likely to harbor prejudice toward the unvaccinated than the other way around, according to a recent study published in Nature of over 15,000 citizens from 21 different countries, which Atlas saw as yet another example of how social media censorship has shaped public opinion by stifling important information.
Despite the lack of a “thorough, detailed understanding of efficacy and side effects from the vaccines,” Atlas observed that more than 5.47 billion people worldwide have gotten at least one dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines, or nearly 70 percent of the world’s population.
But because of the “pseudo-scientific” lockdown regulations, a huge number of people lost their employment in the healthcare, education, and military, and hospitals had staffing shortages, leading to a backlog of patients in need of life-saving care for illnesses other than COVID-19.
Social media platforms have strayed from their stated roles as a digital town hall and a visible source of information by promoting a “false narrative,” according to Atlas, and instead enabled themselves to be used as a weapon of harm.
“We are living in an Orwellian society if this sort of censorship is allowed to keep going.”
Atlas resigned from the task team after four months of recurrent disagreements with other members after coming under intense pressure in 2020 for expressing his opinions on COVID-19. However, he claimed that this “character assassination” will not deter him from acting in accordance with his moral convictions.
He quoted English writer G. K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
Thousands of people from all over the world had written to him to encourage him to keep speaking out, he claimed, including some “whose family members had committed suicide from the lockdowns and many in the health profession who said they were afraid to step forward.”
“We need people with integrity to rise up when the pressure is on, and when you do that, you empower other people to speak up.”