SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter said Monday that it suspended Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from her service for 12 hours after she posted notices that violated their policy about sharing false information about coronavirus.
Greene, a Georgia Republican, has been an outspoken opponent of vaccines and masks as tools to contain the pandemic. In tweets on Sunday and Monday, she argued that Covid-19 is not dangerous for people under 65 who are not obese, and said there was no need to get vaccinated.
Still, coronavirus cases 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 Greene’s home state of Georgia, the number of new cases has increased 193 percent in the past two weeks.
Twitter said Ms Greene’s tweets were misinformation and it had banned her from the service until Tuesday. “We took enforcement action on the account @mtgreenee violation of the Twitter Rules, namely Covid-19 misleading information policy Covid,” said a Twitter spokesperson. The company also added labels to Ms Greene’s posts about vaccines, calling them “misleading” and only informing the safety of vaccinations.
A spokeswoman for Ms Greene did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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 disinformation to grow unchallenged, adding, “Look, the only pandemic we’ve seen is a pandemic.” I’ve run into people who haven’t been vaccinated, and that – and they’re killing people.”
Health officials said his statement capped weeks of frustration at the White House over the spread of misinformation online, leading to vaccine hesitancy.
Facebook, which has received much criticism, considers Mr. Biden’s claim to be baseless. “The Biden administration has chosen to blame some American social media companies,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said in a blog post Saturday. “The reality is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased.”
On Monday, the president played down his criticism, saying that specific users were responsible for spreading misinformation, not Facebook. Mr. Biden added that the company should do more to combat “excessive misinformation” spreading on its platform rather than treating his remarks as a personal insult.
Twitter has long banned users from sharing misinformation about the coronavirus that could lead to harm. In March, the company introduced a policy explaining penalties for sharing lies about viruses and vaccines.
“We have observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric that has no basis in reliable research or reporting, and a variety of unsubstantiated rumors. , which are not documented can prevent the public from making informed decisions regarding their health and put individuals, families and communities at risk,” the company said in a statement. policy against Covid’s sharing of misinformation.
Those who violate that policy are subject to escalating penalties known as warnings and could face a permanent ban if they repeatedly share misinformation about the virus. The 12-hour ban, like the one Ms Greene is experiencing, is Twitter’s response to users with two or three strikes. After four strikes, Twitter suspends the user for seven days, and after five strikes, Twitter bans the user altogether.
Other Republicans who have been suspended from Twitter have complained that the social media company is censoring them.
In January, Twitter banned President Donald J. Trump after the company determined that his social media posts played a role in inciting violence during the US Capitol riots. Mr. Trump has argued that Twitter and Facebook, which have also suspended his accounts, are censoring him and say the companies require government surveillance.
Ms. Greene was previously suspended by Twitter in April, but the company said it was an error caused by one of its spam and abuse automated systems.
“Everybody knows it’s a LICE, and it’s not a mistake,” Ms Greene tweeted after her suspension was lifted.