As @gorskon (on Twitter, find his blog on https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/) likes to say…of scum an villainy. My account there started off in 2014 because a friend had signed up, and I decided to give it a try. It soon became my favorite, and it wasn’t long before I began being engaged by anti-vaxers trying to convert me to their cause. Dr. Gorski had changed my mind about science, which I’d always hated because I didn’t understand it. But actual scientists and science advocates are very generous with their knowledge and resources, so I soon found myself getting links to research papers, textbook excerpts, and scholarly articles from them. And whatever I didn’t understand, they explained until I got it. This was…ummm…27 years ago, I think?
Twitter has been a phenomenal source for this. Many of the scientists I ended up following became friends as well, and I’ve met some of my moots in real life, shared video calls, had ongoing DM conversations. It’s been delightful.
So over time, my main account became a science advocacy one as well as a social one. (It’s part of the reason my blog has been inactive for so long!) Much of it, of course, was countering anti-vax misinformation, because anti-vaxers are deeply committed to all kinds of pseudoscience and outright woo. They have a high-profile presence in this regard.
But it was manageable.
It brought the purveyors of dangerous, often deadly, misinformation out in droves. And it has changed my, and many others’, experience of Twitter. Never have we had to repeat the same debunking of the same lies so many times. Never has it been so obvious that Twitter rules and Terms of Service are there only for the sake of appearance. Accounts that exist for the purpose of disseminating outright lies and selling useless and even dangerous substances to purportedly treat or prevent Covid19 flout these rules with impunity. Individuals who repeat these lies and spread ludicrous rumors about the disease and the vaccines we currently have to prevent it are protected by Twitter. We know this because we report them, and nearly every report comes back saying that Twitter sees no violation.
Yes, this is personal. I’ve had my account locked twice and four tweets hidden for violating their rules about Covid19 misinformation, even though a human being reading them would know immediately that they were correcting misinformation being spread by covidiots. They apologized for the hidden tweets and the first lockout, which did no good because it came after my account would have been unlocked anyway. This time, well…
They locked me for telling a covidiot that when vaccines were found to have potentially dangerous side effects or could cause dangerous adverse events, they were withdrawn from the market. It was determined that this tweet was spreading “misleading and potentially harmful information about Covid19.” I kid you not. When I appealed it, they changed their minds and said they were upholding my lockout for a completely different reason.
We’re writing to let you know that your account features will remain limited for the allotted time due to violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules against abusive behavior.
To ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs on our platform, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse. This includes behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice.
Please note that continued abusive behavior may lead to the suspension of your account. To avoid having your account suspended, please only post content that abides by the Twitter Rules: https://help.twitter.com/rules-and-policies/twitter-rules#abusive-behavior.
In the meantime, no action whatsoever has been taken regarding the tweets I reported from the account to which I was responding. You can check it out and scratch your heads as to why not…https://twitter.com/NYTruthBot
I’m far from the only one. Twitter has locked/suspended/banned many scientists, doctors, researchers, science teachers, and other science advocates for years while ignoring the huge amount of “diverse opinions and beliefs” that are the reason we’re still in a pandemic. Many of them left and never came back. I don’t want to leave because of the friends I’ve made there and the education I continue to receive from science twitter.
So…my blog will have to come back to life so I can call out the ghouls and death merchants Twitter feels deserve a platform. It’ll take some time for my ADHD brain to get used to doing this, and I’ll have to figure out a way to get images on here without having to pay a site for image hosting. But I need to do this, because if Twitter is going to allow people to lie about a disease that’s killed millions and disabled millions more, it needs to be publicized. I might not be able to make a huge dent, but I can’t just do nothing. Wish me luck!