The latest revelations from Elon Musk's "Twitter Files" suggest the social media giant went out of its way to censor a physician and Stanford University medical professor critical of lockdowns and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Independent journalist Bari Weiss shared part two of "The Twitter Files" Thursday night in a Twitter thread focusing on "Twitter's Secret Blacklists." The former New York Times reporter and founder of The Free Press compiled the main findings based on information she obtained from Musk, who purchased the company in October for over $44 billion.
The release comes amid concerns that social media companies have tried to manipulate public opinion by limiting access to information that does not align with their preferred views and narratives.
"A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics — all in secret, without informing users," she wrote.
"Twitter once had a mission 'to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.' Along the way, barriers were nevertheless erected."
Weiss identified Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford School of Medicine and co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration condemning COVID-19 lockdowns as ineffective and harmful to public health, as someone blacklisted by the platform. The document was signed by over 15,000 medical and public health professionals calling for schools and universities to be open for in-person instruction and for low-risk young adults to work normally rather than from home.
According to Weiss, Twitter secretly placed Bhattacharya on a "Trends Blacklist," which prevented his tweets from trending.
In a tweet Thursday night, Bhattacharya said he is still trying to process his emotions after "learning that @twitter blacklisted me," but stressed that "sunshine is the best disinfectant."
"The thought that will keep me up tonight: censorship of scientific discussion permitted policies like school closures & a generation of children were hurt," Bhattacharya wrote.
Bhattacharya is curious about "what role the government played in Twitter's suspension of covid policy discussion."
He shared a quote from a Substack article titled "Why Centralising Control of Scientific and Political Speech Is A Terrible Idea." The piece was written b David Thunder, a researcher and lecturer of political philosophy at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.
"If scientifically informed opinions are suppressed, censored, or artificially denied access to the public sphere, as has happened frequently throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the loser is not just the censored scientists, but the science itself, and human progress more generally," Thunder wrote.
Weiss said that more "Twitter Files" are set to be released in the near future, concluding her Twitter thread by urging her followers to "Watch @mtaibbi for the next installment."
Taibbi, a former reporter for Rolling Stone, released the first batch of "The Twitter Files" last week. The original set of "The Twitter Files" outlined efforts by Twitter officials to censor and discredit reporting related to a story about the contents of Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
The original "Twitter Files" also documented exchanges between officials with the Biden campaign and Twitter employees asking the social media company to review certain tweets they disapproved of. While the campaign of former President Donald Trump also flagged tweets for the company to review, the overwhelmingly liberal political slant of the employees at Twitter made it so that requests from Democrats to review and censor specific tweets were more likely to be honored than those from Republicans.
Among other accounts that were included on the "Trends Blacklist” is Libs of Tik Tok, an account that began in November 2020 and has over 1.4 million followers. Among other issues, the account has been critical of gender surgeries being performed on minors at Children's Hospitals across the country.
According to Weiss, the account was subjected to six suspensions in 2022 alone, sometimes not being able to post for over a week. The Twitter staff claimed that the account's posts encouraged online harassment of “hospitals and medical providers."
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com