Twitter dropped its policies about COVID-19 misinformation last week, but no one noticed until now.
According to an update note posted on Twitter’s blog and “transparency report,” as of November 23, the platform is no longer enforcing policies it used to combat “misleading information” during the COVID pandemic. But there was no formal announcement of a policy change; news broke Tuesday when several conservative users posted screenshots of the updated policy. The policy change is the latest move in Elon Musk’s effort to reform Twitter into a “free speech” platform.
“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” the note reads.
Conservatives shared screenshots of the updated policy Tuesday, and celebrated the change by posting facts about COVID-19 that were once deemed “misinformation” by Twitter.
“Finally. The truth is that almost everything @twitter labeled as covid misinformation ended up being true,” Outkick founder Clay Travis commented on a screenshot of the policy note.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) November 29, 2022
“@elonmusk has officially put an end to Twitter’s medical censorship 👏,” technology researcher Dr. Eli David applauded.
“Jeez, now when the Biden Administration and CNN share Covid misinformation we’ll have no idea!” Rubin Report host Dave Rubin joked.
“[S]poiler: there was never Covid misinformation, just information Twitter agreed to censor,” Grabien founder Tom Elliott wrote.
“Now that Twitter stopped enforcing its COVID ‘misinformation’ policies, I can finally tell you that the vaccine doesn’t work, masks are useless, & the lockdowns did more harm than good,” conservative podcast host Steven Crowder commented. “Thank you for coming to my TED talk.”
“Now, that Twitter ended ‘Covid misinformation’ policies, let’s review the Experts™ misinformation,” journalist Kyle Becker tweeted. “1. 15 days to slow the spread 2. Masks work 3. Lockdowns work 4. Natural immunity is a myth 5. mRNA shots are vaccines 6. Covid shots stop transmission 7. ‘100% safe & effective.'”
According to CNN, between January 2020 and September 2022, the platform suspended more than 11,000 accounts and took down more than 100,000 individual posts for violating the misinformation policy. Notable users suspended included Republican Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, journalist Alex Berenson, mRNA vaccine researcher Dr. Robert Malone, cardiologist Dr. Peter McCollough, and former San Francisco Giants player Aubrey Huff.
The day after Twitter announced the policy change, CEO Elon Musk announced a blanket amnesty for users suspended from the platform. On November 23, Musk tweeted a poll asking whether or not to unban users that had been permanently suspended. “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” he wrote.
More than three million users voted in the poll, and the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of amnesty; nearly three-quarters of voters, 72.4%, voted “yes,” while just 27.6% voted “no.”
“The people have spoken,” Musk wrote after the poll concluded. “Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.”
As of this week, Twitter has begun the process of reinstating some 62,000 accounts with more than 10,000 followers to platform, the Platformer newsletter reported. The identities of users were not available, but the list included one account with more than 5 million followers and 75 accounts with more than 1 million.