Twitter files, COVID edition

PM David Zweig Suppression of dissent

The CDC met with Twitter and other tech firms to manage information about COVID. During Trump’s time in office, it was primarily to provide accurate information and to discourage runs on scarce supplies in grocery stores. But when Biden’s team came in, the emphasis turned to censoring contrary opinion, including that of legitimate experts and quotations of CDC website material that did not support the narrative.

Many of the suppressed opinions have proven to be true.

The previous Twitter executives took the White House directives eagerly as they were in line with their own biases.

Read the full thread

60 thoughts on “Twitter files, COVID edition

  1. I am curious as to why anyone would believe Alex Berenson to be an expert on COVID. He’s a reporter who writes spy novels. So far as I can tell, he has absolutely no background in medicine or any sort of science. Yet, he was on Twitter, telling people not to get vaccinated because vaccines weren’t safe.

    “On January 25, 2022, Berenson appeared on the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight declaring that existing mRNA vaccines are “dangerous and ineffective” against COVID-19, and further demanding that they be withdrawn from the market immediately.”

    The man is a menace to public health and you are upset that he was banned from Twitter? It must be a great comfort to you to know he’s back.

    I’m no medical expert either, but I’ve had several friends who have had COVID. The ones who got it before the vaccines were available are dead. The one who got it after the vaccines were available are still alive. They got the shots. I’m glad they never took his non-expert advice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am not agreeing with Berenson, nor is the author, he was just the first to be banned by request of the Biden administration.

      Whether he was right or not is not the issue, whether contrary voices should be heard or not is.


      1. Then I say, Good for the Biden Administration! This is not “a contrary voice.” This is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. It’s a menace to public health and it should be banned.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So, you’re OK with censorship.

          But note that it was not just Berenson, for example, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, and a bonified expert, was effectively blocked for his correct opinion that the vaccines were most useful for the elderly or immune impaired and not useful for those who had already been infected and recovered or for children.

          Other physicians who advocated other treatments or who questioned Resemdivir’s usefulness were blocked.

          That’s not how science, nor public discourse, works.


          1. “So, you’re OK with censorship.”

            Call it what you want. Disinformation about Covid literally KILLED tens of thousands of people. Even so, there was never any government censorship. Just guidance as to the best science available. Which private, for-profit social media companies were free to follow or to ignore.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. “The CDC line was NOT the best science available.”

            Yes, it was. Your source is not credible. It is FAR too eager to “prove” government malfeasance. I have ZERO interest in any source that refers to our government as the “Biden regime.” Further, my hair is not set on fire when the government does its best to stop the spread of dangerous anti-vaxxer nonsense.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. “So, only the almighty state is credible to you.”

            I expect the CDC to weigh inputs from Harvard epidemiologists and every other reputable source within the scientific and medical community. I expect them to reach a consensus opinion about the medical advice to offer to the public, the medical community, and governments at all levels. I then expect them to speak with ONE VOICE in order to minimize the overall suffering from the pandemic or epidemic in question.

            I have seen no evidence to suggest that they have not met my expectations as listed above. You are someone who hates the government and doubly so when it is effective. Your attacks on my character and intellect are very easy for me to ignore. Considering the source.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. And yet, in many cases, the CDC was wrong, and eventually came to the same conclusions as its critics did much earlier.

            Further, the CDC, after it full well knew better, submitted to the demands of the teachers unions.


          5. “And yet, in many cases, the CDC was wrong . . .”

            No, it wasn’t. You can repeat that until you turn blue. It is still – at best – merely an opinion far removed from being an objective fact.

            And good grief, teachers unions making their position known is not a “demand.” It is just another factor that CDC MUST consider in its overall decision making. A teacher self-isolating at home was in every instance far safer than a teacher facing dozens of kids in close quarters every day. That is a simple fact. YOU may think they should be FORCED to take that risk but they may have had a different view about keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. And yet pretty much every other profession took those risks.

            Remember that teachers elbowed their way to the front of the line for vaccines, and then still wouldn’t go to work, lobbying the CDC to keep schools closed long after Catholic schools had proven it unnecessary.


          7. “Remember that teachers elbowed their way to the front of the line for vaccines . . .”

            Children are notorious vectors of infection. The desire of teachers to be vaccinated before facing a risky situation every day is entirely rational and justifiable.

            I do not know who you think you are to put your preferences ahead of those actually taking risks every day. Maybe it is that selfishly pigheaded “conservatives” don’t like to be told what to do kicking in. You know, what you told us about the other day. Or maybe you just don’t like ordinary people getting organized to stand up for themselves.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. Blocking misinformation is not censorship. By your standards, it would be okay to mislabel prescription bottles. Why should anyone feel obligated to provide accurate information?

            People should get their medical information from their doctors, but of course, not everyone will. In times of pandemic, the CDC is the place everyone, including the media, should turn to for the best information available.

            Unfortunately, we are a country plagued with QAnon and MAGA narcissists who think they know more than the CDC. And rather than offer their scientific expertise to the group that is working on solving things, these people feel obligated to give press conferences offering their opinions which may or may not be accurate.

            If a scientist has something valuable to say, they should say it through the CDC, not through Twitter.

            Liked by 2 people

          9. You make the baseless assumption that the CDC was the only source of good information. The CDC was often wrong. It is still wrong about childhood vaccination,

            The CDC was wrong about priority in vaccination, guided by wokeness rather than medical judgment.

            A lot of people died needlessly.

            Why would you think a scientist could say what was important through the CDC when it was the CDC censoring all opinion but its own.

            Would you support the government providing a list of books you could read?

            Philosophies you could follow?

            Political parties you could support?

            We arrive at the truth by a contest of ideas, if only one voice is heard, you can never know if it is the right one.


          10. I’m saying that in times of crisis, people have to work together. Your every-man-for-himself bullshit doesn’t work when the chips are down.

            Maybe the CDC was wrong about the prioritization of who gets the vaccine first. I seriously doubt that killed as many people as the “experts” who said the vaccines were dangerous and should be taken off the market.

            The CDC was “censoring all opinions but its own” because no one had proven those other opinions to be valid. The CDC has an obligation to provide accurate information. Those other opinions may have been valid, but at the time, they were only opinions.

            Censoring books and philosophies and politics is not the same thing as preventing the publication of misleading medical information.

            “We arrive at the truth by a contest of ideas, if only one voice is heard, you can never know if it is the right one.” Agreed. However, the average American is not qualified to know which medical idea is the right one. That is a matter for medical experts to decide and, once a consensus has been reached, to inform the public. It should not be a garble of random ideas being thrown out, willy nilly, for an unqualified public opinion to decide.

            Liked by 2 people

          11. What “experts” said the vaccines should be taken off the market?

            There are a small number of fanatics who distrust ALL vaccines. And they are listened to by a small number of people who will latch onto any conspiracy theory. They can’t be helped.

            But the CDC has gotten things wrong that affect many more who could have been helped.

            The obsession with vaccinating kids is still going on, and there is plenty of respected opinion warning against that.

            Maybe the CDC is right, maybe it isn’t but it’s a close enough call that both sides deserve to be heard.

            But the CDC didn’t just go to Twitter to silence the nutjobs, it silenced everyone not toeing the official line.

            And in doing so, they silenced conversations between doctors.


          12. Well, I put experts in quotation marks because I was referring to Berenson, one of the “experts” who was “censored.” And, yes, he did say the vaccines should be taken off the market.

            I’m not sure the number of anti-vaxxers is small. According to a fact checker, 21% of the US population is still fully unvaccinated, having received no shots at all. In states like Georgia and Alabama, the percentage is even worse. It looks like West Virginia is at the bottom of the list with 41% totally unvaccinated.

            It looks to me as if the Red states have the lowest vaccination rates. By coincidence, the Red states happened to be the ones who listened to Republican propaganda that made a political issue out of a medical issue. Seriously, it came down to getting vaccinated and/or wearing a mask made you a traitor to Trump.

            And I still say, it’s the CDC that should be hearing both sides, not the general public. It does you no good to hear both sides if you are not qualified to judge which is right.

            Liked by 2 people

          13. I am competent to make my own decisions and so is my doctor. But my doctor is also prevented from hearing other opinion.

            BTW, Trump, who had already had COVID, is also fully vaccinated and has consistently advocated vaccination. I don’t know where you get the idea anti-vax sentiment has anything to do with him.


          14. “…I don’t know where you get the idea anti-vax sentiment has anything to do with him.”

            He politicized mask wearing and the rest is history. #Liberate anyone?

            MAGA crowd booed him when he recommended vaccination. His creation.

            Dr. Fauci is under tight security because of death threats.

            Right wing punditry denigrating vaccines while worshipping Trump.

            So how much of this was going to happen without Trump? True, anti-vaxxers are not a recent phenomenon. But the scope of it as applied to COVID is definitely political and MAGA driven.

            Liked by 2 people

          15. ” I am competent to make my own decisions and so is my doctor. But my doctor is also prevented from hearing other opinion.”

            If my doctor was listening to opinions from Twitter rather than Medline or AccessMedicine or BioMed Central or CINAHL or any other peer reviewed datasource, I’d change doctors.

            A real medical professional will submit their opinions for peer review, where they are subject to testing and debate among other professionals. If their opinions are considered valid, they will be published and thereby help the entire medical community.

            Science fiction writers submit their opinions to Twitter.

            Len so perfectly explained why Trump is associated with the MAGAT anti-vax sentiment, I don’t feel that needs further explanation.

            Liked by 2 people

          16. In a fast moving pandemic, the traditional peer reviewed process cannot keep up.

            I follow virologists and immunologists on Twitter(much of the immunology goes over my head) and they do a great deal of communicating on Twitter prior to submitting papers for peer review.


          17. I’m curious. On Twitter, how do you know you are reading Tweets from a virologist or a science fiction writer? You may find it entertaining, but for most people, it’s a dangerous guessing game.

            Things do move fast in a pandemic. That’s all the more reason to rely on sources that have the staff and the expertise to keep up with the overwhelming flow of information.

            On the other hand, people who get their medical advice from Twitter do invoke the Darwin theory and help cleanse the gene pool. So, there’s that.

            Liked by 2 people

          18. Because in many cases there are links to previously published articles by the authors.

            And, of course, what I read from them makes sense in the context of other information.


          19. A conspiracy enthusiast will use a Berenson to bolster his conspiracy if he stays on social media or not. Both actions are “proof positive” everyone is lying except him.

            Remember Jade Helm 15, a normal military exercise in the Southwest that wing nuts believed was a ruse for a martial law takeover of Texas by the Obama administration.

            32% of Republicans believed it, including 28% more who weren’t sure. It was bolstered by Gohmert and even Abbott, the governor.

            Even then, the right wing was a Petri dish of misinformation and conspiracies. At the highest levels, too. Distrust of government may be a sport among conservatives, but one would expect the elected leaders to straighten out the falsehoods rather than fan the flames. That kind of leadership is flat out deplorable. (Evidently, perhaps Clinton was right after all.) and do you think any reasoned rebuttal convinced the vulnerable 32%.


            Liked by 2 people

          20. So, how is that justification for preventing my doctor from sharing her experience with other doctors? Or reading of the experiences of others?

            Do you think they are too naive to pick the wheat from the chaff?


          21. Once a conspiracy is published on social media and goes viral, contrary evidence is lost.

            It is like the conspiracy monger snaps up every public gathering permit available to send the lie around the country. And then slowly, as they expire, the truth is “old news”.

            Liked by 1 person

          22. Since the Internet took off its training wheels, doctors have had better ways of sharing information than Twitter. There are places where they can share among themselves and not be competing with wingnuts for attention. Also, places where they aren’t sharing it with the general public who may, or may not understand it, may interpret incorrectly, and who may be harmed by it.

            Liked by 2 people

          23. It’s not transparency I have a problem with. It’s putting dynamite into the hands of children I have a problem with. Neither dynamite nor medical information are play things. Ivermectin is a perfect example.

            Early in the COVID pandemic, laboratory research suggested ivermectin might have a role in preventing or treating COVID. That information was given to the general public and a lot of people started dosing themselves with horse wormers. It later emerged that many studies demonstrating its benefits were faulty, misleading, or fraudulent. But the cat was out of the bag by then because the public had taken dynamite and played with it.

            Hydroxy chloroquine is another example. After hearing about it through social media, some couple out west dosed themselves with fish tank cleaner. The woman was hospitalized and the man died. Yet, despite all that, some people with long COVID are still dosing themselves with hydroxy chloroquine… hopefully, not the fish tank flavor chloroquine.

            Sometimes it’s not stupidity. Sometimes it’s desperation that drives people to play with dynamite. My belief it, it’s better not to give them dynamite to play with.

            Liked by 2 people

          24. Ivermectin and HCQ are both safe drugs which, though not as effective as Paxlovid, do show some benefit in treating COVID if started early enough.

            That people were injured by taking veterinary versions of the drug is the result of making the human versions unavailable through their doctors.

            Had the safe forms of the drugs been available, no one would have been harmed and we would have learned very quickly if they were of sufficient value for widespread use.

            Any harm that resulted is because of the effort to prevent willing patients from trying the known safe drugs at a time when there was no alternate choice.

            In such situations, there is no just reason to deny people the chance to try a safe drug, If it doesn’t help, we learn from the effort.


          25. The point is, those people didn’t know the drugs they were taking weren’t safe. They didn’t know the difference between hydroxy chloroquine and fish tank chloroquine. They just heard “chloroquine” and ran with it.

            People weren’t going to feed stores to buy horse wormer because they were denied it by doctors. People without any sort of medical insurance weren’t going to go to a doctor for anything. They were going to try to treat themselves for COVID just like they treat themselves for a sore throat.

            For a sore throat, hot vinegar rags worked, but granny’s home remedies didn’t include advice on COVID, so they had to improvise. They saw no distinction between human drugs and animal drugs. I’ve known people who got their liniment from vets because human liniment wasn’t strong enough. They wouldn’t think twice about taking horse wormer if there was even a rumor it would cure COVID.

            They weren’t “being denied safe drugs.” They were hearing rumors about unsafe drugs that they didn’t understand.

            Liked by 2 people

          26. That is factually incorrect.

            I discussed HCQ with 2 of my physicians early in the pandemic, asking if they thought it might be useful in the event of infection, both told me the same thing, They didn’t know if it was useful or not but in any case, they had received an email from the Dept of Health telling them off label prescriptions for HCQ were prohibited and that pharmacies had been cautioned not to fill such prescriptions absent a diagnosis of malaria.

            I would not have been able to get HCQ or later, Ivermectin, through legal means.

            So, desperate people offered no treatment options did, in fact, seek veterinary versions because they could not get the human version.

            The CDC, FDA and Health Depts have no business dictating treatment choices to physicians and their informed patients.


          27. Wait, wait, wait. You were told by two doctors that they didn’t know whether hydroxy chloroquine was useful for COVID or not… the Department of Health was saying it could only be prescribed for malaria… and you wanted it anyway? Fortunately, you didn’t get desperate enough to take horse wormer… did you?

            It wasn’t the CDC, FDA or Health Departments advising you not to take it, it was two of your doctors.

            Again, I don’t think the people taking fish tank cleaner and/or horse wormer were doing that because they couldn’t get a prescription. If prescriptions had been available, I don’t think they would have even had a doctor to ask. I think they took fish tank cleaner and horse wormer because they heard just enough information, that they didn’t understand, to be dangerous.

            Liked by 2 people

          28. Read more carefully

            I asked about HCQ proactively, in case I became infected.

            They did not advise against it they said they didn’t know but could not prescribe it anyway because the Health Department following FDA guidelines prohibited it (unlawfully I think) and pharmacists had been ordered not to fill prescriptions without a malaria diagnosis.

            That was a decision that belonged to me and my physician.

            You are doing a lot of mind reading.

            You are assuming people would take veterinary medicine if the human equivalent were readily available. Why would they do that? They don’t do it with antibiotics or other drugs.


          29. Yeah it’s really hell when the government gets involved in a decision that belongs to you and your doctor. Just ask at any abortion clinic.

            But I digress.

            Personally, if a doctor told me he “didn’t know” if a medicine was effective, that would be a “no” in my book.

            I’m telling you I have known people who had no health insurance that never went to a doctor because they couldn’t afford it. They don’t take antibiotics when they get sick. They have home remedies that have been handed down for generations and that’s what they use for normal illnesses. (I can personally testify that inhaling hot vinegar fumes will cure strep throat!)

            But COVID was different. They had no home remedy for that. So, yes, they knew better than to take veterinary medicine for ordinary things, but they were unable to discern misinformation about COVID and many of them did take horse wormer. I only read of one death from the chloroquine misunderstanding, but I don’t doubt there were others that went unreported.

            Liked by 2 people

          30. There are times when ‘I don’t know” from a doctor isn’t a condemnation.

            In this case, HCQ and Ivermectin are known to be safe, especially for the short term and there was nothing better to offer.

            No good reason not to try if it MIGHT help.

            If it were a choice between those and some better option, that would be different. But it was a choice between those and nothing.


          31. “No good reason not to try if it MIGHT help.”

            Except for exhausting the supply for those with illness that they actually work for.

            And I think you are overlooking the harm done by the FALSE promise of an effective treatment to the many millions of people looking for a reason to avoid vaccination. That alone is reason to block access to harmless drugs that are NOT effective. Snake oil kills because it keeps people from following actually sound advice.

            Liked by 1 person

          32. The HCQ controversy came BEFORE the vaccines were available, so it did nothing to discourage vaccination. The “woke” distribution of the vaccine when it was scarce did more to turn people against it than anything else by making it a political issue.

            HCQ is one of the most heavily produced medications in the world, the tiny amount needed to treat everyone infected with COVID would not even produce a hiccup in the supply.


          33. “The HCQ controversy came BEFORE the vaccines were available, so it did nothing to discourage vaccination”

            Of course, you do not know that.

            But, I was responding to the general point that there is no reason to control access to harmless treatments. There is a very good reason. Snake oil causes people to avoid sound medical advice and treatments. The mission of the FDA is to ensure that medicines sold to the public are BOTH safe and EFFECTIVE. That is what its mission should be.

            Liked by 1 person

          34. Again, the alternative was nothing.

            Even so, providing doctors with accurate information is adequate protection, without dictating what treatments doctors can prescribe.

            The FDA, if it is to exist at all, should be limited to safety, efficacy is the domain of your doctor guided by his journals and shared professional experience.


          35. “Again, the alternative was nothing.”

            Again, you are missing the point. If people come to believe that an effective treatment is available when there is none, they are less likely to protect themselves with vaccination, masking, social distancing, etc.

            Limiting the FDA to safety only makes no sense. The ranks of doctors are not free of charlatans and thieves. You yourself have cited how widespread dishonesty is in the dental profession. Snake oil may be safe to consume, but it is still very dangerous.

            Liked by 1 person

          36. So, are you going to require grocers to sell only nutritious foods?

            Automakers to sell only preferred vehicles?

            Actors to make only good movies?

            Weeding out charlatans is the job of the marketplace.


          37. A much sillier idea is to compel everyone to take the same choice, because with nothing to compare to, you have no way to know if it was the right one.


          38. “A much sillier idea is to compel everyone to take the same choice, because with nothing to compare to, you have no way to know if it was the right one.”

            Sillier and sillier. There are very well developed programs of tests and trials to determine which medicines are effective and which are not. We do not need people dying in the marketplace to determine such things.

            Liked by 1 person

          39. “Your faith in the almighty state is troubling.”

            Not as troubling as your blind faith in the benevolence of the market. In this case you want people to suffer and die in order to expose “medicines” that are not safe and/or not effective. Now THAT is troubling – sacrificing lives for the sake of a priori doctrine and a kneejerk hatred of the government.

            Liked by 1 person

          40. Again, we are talking about a time in which there was no alternative other than supportive care, which was not in conflict with HCQ.

            So, what is the justification for not allowing people to try?


          41. “Again . . .”

            You want to talk about a specific politically controversial treatment. I suppose that is because you want to grasp at any straw that says Donald Trump is not actually a nimcompoop.

            I am talking about the reasons that drugs offered to the public should be BOTH safe and effective.

            And as much as you want to beat up the HCQ straw man, it did receive an Emergency Use Authorization very early in the pandemic (March 28th) and people WERE allowed to try it. After three months with no measurable benefit and with growing evidence of serious risks, the EUA was cancelled June 15th. To me, this was an entirely fair, balanced and science-based approach. And it was in keeping with the mandate of the FDA to keep snake oil out of the medical marketplace.


            Liked by 1 person

          42. HCQ received an EUA for hospital use on severely ill patients, when it was far too late for it to do any good.

            It was never permitted for use as intended, early in the disease, or even post exposure, by primary care physicians.

            HCQ is used outside hospitals all over the world and is OTC in most of Africa and South America.

            And the issue is not Trump. The issue is the FDA limiting the options physicians have available for treating patients using known safe drugs.

            And remember that at the time there were no other therapeutics available.


          43. Something to remember about people like Berenson and those prone to believe him. Attempting to silence him gives him credibility with those who are prone to conspiracy theory.


      2. Here is a thought. During the pandemic, people who based their information on Twitter, FB or other social media might not have been depending on a good source. Either way.

        I am not on Twitter. FB is a once a week check on relatives and my two dozen or so “friends”.

        So if conspiracies were flowing, I missed them unless they were mentioned in reliable media.

        So a person wavering sees a post that says vaccines will magnetize you. Then he waits for a reasoned rebuttal. Out comes the Bill Gates chip theory.
        Then, a message saying vaccines are good. What to do?

        Maybe not rely on social media and talk to a doctor or health care professional or even try a few sites like Mayo Clinic or Harvard Med School.

        But wait for a reasoned debate and then flip a coin?

        Relying on social media is no more useful than going to a downtown area, a Hardee’s or a bar and asking someone stranger if mRNA is safe.

        I mean, really? Perhaps the government was trying to at least limit the magnetization conspiracies and the rest to encourage vaccination, which we know has been very effective. Meanwhile, social media is essentially just posting and reposting the outrageous messages because it sells and make a lot more money.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Twitter became, for a while, an effective check and balance on the MSM.

          It may be again.

          Twitter is what you make it, if censorship doesn’t foul it up. You can follow either people or topics. A great deal of communication between scientists takes place there. It has largely replaced Usenet for that purpose.

          But most importantly, it becomes very hard for the MSM to ignore a story to death if it spreads widely on Twitter.

          That is why censorship is so destructive there, and it benefits you by keeping the MSM honest whether you use it or not.


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