SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter said on Monday that it was suspending Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from its service for 12 hours after she posted messages that violated its policy against sharing misleading information about the coronavirus.
Ms. Greene, a Republican of Georgia, has been an outspoken opponent of vaccines and masks as tools to curb the pandemic. In tweets on Sunday and Monday, she argued that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people under the age of 65 who are not obese, and said vaccines should not be required.
But cases of the coronavirus are on the rise, and the highly contagious Delta variant accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States, federal health officials said this month. In Ms. Greene’s home state, Georgia, new cases have increased 193 percent in the past two weeks.
Twitter said Ms. Greene’s tweets were misinformation, and it barred her from the service until Tuesday. “We took enforcement action on the account @mtgreenee for violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically the Covid-19 misleading information policy,” a Twitter spokesman said. The company also added labels to Ms. Greene’s posts about the vaccines, calling them “misleading” and pointing to information about the safety of the inoculations.
In a statement, Ms. Greene said Silicon Valley companies were working with the White House to attack free speech. “These Big Tech companies are doing the bidding of the Biden regime to restrict our voices and prevent the spread of any message that isn’t state-approved,” she said.
Twitter took action after President Biden called on social media companies to do more to combat the spread of vaccine misinformation on their platforms. On Friday, Mr. Biden said that sites like Facebook were “killing people” by allowing misinformation to flourish unchallenged, adding, “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that — and they’re killing people.”
His statement capped weeks of frustration at the White House over the spread of online misinformation, which has led to vaccine hesitancy, health officials say.
Facebook, which took the brunt of the criticism, argued that Mr. Biden’s statement was unfounded. “The Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president for integrity, said in a blog post on Saturday. “The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the U.S. has increased.”
On Monday, the president softened his criticism, saying that particular users were responsible for the spread of misinformation rather than Facebook. The company should do more to combat “the outrageous misinformation” spreading on its platform rather than taking his remarks as a personal insult, Mr. Biden added.
Twitter has long banned users from sharing misinformation about the coronavirus that could lead to harm. In March, the company introduced a policy that explained the penalties for sharing lies about the virus and vaccines.
“We’ve observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric unfounded in research or credible reporting, and a wide range of unsubstantiated rumors, which left uncontextualized can prevent the public from making informed decisions regarding their health, and puts individuals, families and communities at risk,” the company said in its policy against sharing Covid misinformation.
People who violate that policy are subject to escalating punishments known as strikes and could face a permanent ban if they repeatedly share misinformation about the virus. A 12-hour ban, like the one Ms. Greene is experiencing, is Twitter’s response to users who have either two or three strikes. After four strikes, Twitter suspends users for seven days, and after five strikes, Twitter bars the user altogether.
Other Republicans who have been suspended from Twitter have complained that the social media company is censoring them.
In January, Twitter barred President Donald J. Trump after the company determined that his social media posts played a role in inciting violence during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Trump has argued that Twitter and Facebook, which also suspended his account, were censoring him and said the companies required government oversight.
Ms. Greene was previously suspended from Twitter in April, but the company said it was a mistake caused by one of its automated systems for detecting spam and abuse.
“Everyone knows that’s a LIE, and it was no mistake,” Ms. Greene tweeted after her suspension was lifted.
News Roundup: New vaccine rules for federal workers; bipartisan infrastructure deal falls short
In the news today: As COVID-19 cases continue to soar among unvaccinated Americans, President Joe Biden announced new vaccine requirements for federal workers, with a military vaccine mandate likely to follow. The Senate voted yesterday to begin debate on a “bipartisan” infrastructure plan. What’s the bipartisan part? That it’s less ambitious than needed and reeeeeally sketchy about its numbers. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed the Biden administration doesn’t have the legal authority to unilaterally cancel student debt, advocates point out that the Higher Education Act very specifically says it does.
Here’s some of what you may have missed:
Trump’s aides reportedly fretting over his potential toxic touch in future endorsements
The latest? Trump laid his bam on a candidate in Tuesday’s special House election in Texas, and that candidate—Susan Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, who previously held the seat—lost. Convincingly. And now Trump’s aides and assorted hangers-on are starting to show just a wee bit of panic.
Now, Trump and his advisers are trying to figure out what Wright’s defeat means for them — and how to contain any damage. Her loss Tuesday night sent shockwaves through the former president’s inner circle. Many privately concede the pressure is on them to win another special election next week in Ohio, where a Trump-backed candidate is locked in a close primary.
Yes, the Eye of Sour-Don now alights on Ohio, where another nail in Trump’s big, gilded, tricked-out King Tut loser coffin is being teed up as we speak. In Ohio’s special House election, Trump has backed coal lobbyist Mike Carey—because if you’re going to back losers, you might as well back losers from waning, has-been, loser industries like coal production.
Needless to say, the Trump team is currently on tenterhooks in advance of that election, because a Carey loss would allow Trump’s detractors to affix another big red loser stamp on Trump’s flaky, flop-sweaty forehead. More importantly, it might allow some of the nontrue believers in his party to finally spit out their ball gags.
Advisers worry that a second embarrassing loss would raise questions about the power of Trump’s endorsement — his most prized political commodity, which candidates from Ohio to Wyoming are scrambling to earn before next year’s midterms. More broadly, losses could undermine his standing in the Republican Party, where his popularity and influence has protected Trump’s relevance even as a former president barred from his social media megaphones.
While we should all root against Trump’s candidate next week, it’s important to note that Trump has never actually been a superstar endorser. His continued influence over his party and its elected officials is indisputable, but there’s plenty of reason to believe he cherry-picks his candidates in order to cultivate a phony winner’s veneer.
As CNN’s Chris Cillizza (I know, I know) noted in his July 28 column, Trump’s reputation as a kingmaker is, at the very least, exaggerated. Noting that Trump’s endorsement record is 141-42 in general elections, 3-2 in special elections, and 21-2 in battleground primaries, Cillizza writes:
In general elections, Trump has always padded his stats by endorsing lots and lots of incumbents who face almost zero chance of losing. Trump did a LOT of this in the 2020 cycle. For example, he endorsed Rep. James Comer in Kentucky’s 1st district; Comer won with 75% in a seat that Trump won by almost 50 points. No one thought Comer was losing. Trump’s endorsement had nothing to do with that fact.
And, yes, as Cillizza acknowledges, Trump’s endorsement record in primaries is very good, but it won’t help the Republican Party much if he backs dozens of slavering sycophants and Q-weirdos in contested primaries only to see them flame out in their general elections. And, regardless, the scuttling of Trump’s preferred candidate on Tuesday shows he’s vulnerable, even when it comes to primary candidates (though, granted, he may not be not quite as vulnerable in exclusively Republican primaries).
Unlike the Texas election, where voters from both parties were allowed to vote, the Ohio contest is a Republican primary. Trump allies say that means it will be a purer test of his ability to shape GOP nomination contests. At the same time, they argue that the more conservative nature of the race increases the odds that Trump’s endorsed candidate will be successful.
Some Republicans contend that Tuesday’s loss highlights a trend in Trump’s post-presidency: His endorsement doesn’t carry as much weight as when he was in office. After being kicked off social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Trump has been forced to promote his endorsement largely through email blasts.
Aww, so sad.
I used to want Trump to shut up and go away forever. For one thing, he sounds like a glitchy jet engine sucking in the cast of The Jersey Shore. And I’ve had enough lies for one lifetime. But I happen to believe it’s in our best interest if he stays in the game. He’ll keep picking nonviable candidates and pushing the GOP further into Bonkersville, and his constant harping about election fraud will likely—as happened in the Georgia Senate runoff elections—depress turnout among his own base, many of whom already neglect to show up when Trump’s not on the ballot.
So keep talkin’, Loser Man. And keep hosting your Loser-paloozas. I can almost see the stink lines wafting off your stable of candidates, and it’s beautiful to behold.
It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.
Black woman’s travels with white adoptive sister end in police questioning
Bailey told the news station that officers also questioned her mom and a social worker before following them to baggage claim. “The whole time they were talking with us, people kept staring at us, whispering and stuff,” Bailey said.
She said it’s clear that she was racially profiled. “If the roles were changed and it was a white person walking off the plane with a Black person, like a Black child, I feel like things would be different,” Bailey said.
Frontier Airlines issued this statement to The Denver Channel:
”A concern was raised during the flight by another passenger who was sitting near the woman and child and suspected human trafficking. That passenger approached the flight crew with those concerns and subsequently completed a written report during the flight to document her observations. The captain was notified and felt an obligation to report the matter. Air travel is one of the most common means for human trafficking. Race played no part in the actions of the flight crew who were following established protocols”
Bailey said she and her family are considering suing the airline. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted on Tuesday: “After a flight, law enforcement accused Lakeyjanay Bailey of human trafficking her 4yo white sister, Olivia, & demanded to speak w/ their mother & a social worker to confirm their relationship! This traumatic experience shouldn’t have happened!”
Bailey’s experience, though frustrating, is unfortunately not unusual. Keia Jones-Baldwin, a Black North Carolina therapist, told The Today Show in 2019 she was accused of kidnapping her white son Princeton, who she was in the process of adopting. Jones-Baldwin was having car trouble and decided to knock on a local resident’s door when she said the person who answered the door called the police and accused her of stealing both the car and the child. She was again accused of kidnapping while vacationing with her family in Tennessee. Jones-Baldwin had decided to do a Western photoshoot. “The girl behind the camera would disappear and then come back. Finally she asked, ‘Is that your baby?’” Jones-Baldwin said. “I told her he was. Then she said, ‘I just took picture of this baby with his family two weeks ago.’”
The incident actually led to the authorities being called and Jones-Baldwin being made to show a custodial document proving she had permission to travel with her son. “We get a lot of stares,” Jones-Baldwin said. “I’m frequently asked if I’m Princeton’s babysitter … I get, ‘Why didn’t you let him stay with a family of his own race?’”
Her answer to the question was simple. “I don’t look at family as blood,” she said. “I look at family as love. When Princeton came into our lives, he came into our hearts.”
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