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Twitter faces ‘Day of Reckoning’ for COVID-19 censorship

'No one else has this chance. No one. And I am not going to give it up'

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Yudi Sherman

Yu

Yudi Sherman

Writer and Reporter

Shining a spotlight on media and government disinformation.

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June 09, 2022

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02:09 AM

Twitter faces ‘Day of Reckoning’ for COVID-19 censorship

As if Elon Musk wasn’t a worthy enough opponent, Twitter is now facing a new adversary who is threatening a day of reckoning for the little blue bird: journalist Alex Berenson. 

Twitter booted Berenson from the platform in August 2021 for contradicting official COVID-19 messaging in a tweet, despite it being factually accurate. 

“It doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission,” he wrote. “Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it – at best – as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it? Insanity.” 

None of Berenson’s statement about the vaccine is disputed by Pfizer, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or any other official body, yet it prompted Twitter to suspend the former New York Times journalist in violation of Twitter’s own five-strikes rule. The tweet was Berenson’s first “strike”. 

After bringing a lawsuit against the social media giant for the violation and “specific commitments” made to him by a Twitter PR executive, Berenson and Twitter are now engaged in mediation and settlement talks, the details of which the journalist said he is unable to disclose. 

But Berenson may have already been granted an unprecedented win in the form of a ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup entitling Berenson to discovery. The order requires Twitter Inc to hand over any and all communications regarding Berenson, even “nonparty complaints or inquiries about plaintiff” which include “all texts, emails, voicemails, statements, and other documents pertaining to plaintiff.” 

This means that if any party, whether in the U.S. government, a pharmaceutical company or otherwise contacted Twitter and complained about Berenson, Twitter is obligated to show that. Furthermore, Berenson is allowed to publicize whatever he finds. 

“As we debate the power and political influence of social media companies, this discovery offers a unique opportunity to see how Twitter and the federal government and others may have colluded against my voice,” wrote the journalist in his Substack newsletter. “No one else has this chance. No one. And I am not going to give it up.” 

Berenson added that while he will make some sacrifices, he refuses to concede his rights to discovery. 

“Not for reinstatement, not for money, not for all the viruses in China. I will NOT agree to any settlement that does not preserve my discovery rights about third-party communications AND give me the right to publicize them. There are other things I will (and have) given up, you have to give to get, but this is the reddest of lines.” 

He concluded by directing readers to his GoFundMe campaign to assist with his legal fees.

Twitter employees were recently caught on hidden camera admitted to censoring the platform’s users, who one Twitter executive said “don’t know how to make a rational decision.” 

On another front, Twitter is battling billionaire Elon Musk, who has placed his acquisition of the company on hold until the company discloses the number of fake accounts, or “bots”, included in Twitter’s user count. 

A May report by Newsweek revealed that nearly half of Joe Biden’s 22.2 million followers are fake, giving the “most popular president in history” 10.9 million less accounts than what is displayed on the platform. 

This has prompted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to open an investigation into Twitter for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act due to false reporting about its user count. 

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