Taylor Lorenz Warns New Twitter COVID-19 Policy Will Cause ‘More Deaths’

Taylor Lorenz Warns New Twitter COVID-19 Policy Will Cause ‘More Deaths’

12/01/2022

Washington Post tech and online culture reporter Taylor Lorenz skewered Elon Musk’s management of Twitter, calling "disaster" during a recent interview on BBC World News.

Washington Post tech columnist Taylor Lorenz published a recent report warning that Twitter’s recent decision to end its COVID "misleading information" guidelines would lead to "more deaths."

On Tuesday, Lorenz published the piece, titled, "Twitter ends its ban on covid misinformation," which featured the subheadline, "Doctors and public health officials say Musk’s decision is a ‘huge step backwards’ and will lead to more deaths."

Media and Twitter users noticed this week that Twitter, under Musk’s ownership, recently ended its policy to penalize accounts posting information on COVID-19 that made assertions contrary to "authoritative sources." 

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Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz published a piece decrying Twitter's new COVID-19 policy. (Ding Ting/Xinhua via AP/MSNBC)

Twitter’s official announcement ending the policy stated, "Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy." 

Since the previous policy was enacted in 2020, over 11,000 Twitter accounts had been suspended for violating this policy. 

Lorenz began her post with experts decrying the move, "Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against coronavirus misinformation, worrying experts who say the move could have serious consequences in the midst of a still-deadly pandemic."

"The rollback of Twitter’s covid-19 misinformation policy is just the latest pivot since Elon Musk took control of the company a month ago," she added. 

Lorenz has been critical of Musk’s handling of the social media platform, recently claiming the billionaire CEO has turned it into a "disaster."

In her story, Lorenz cited Emily Dreyfuss, the co-author of "Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America" who said, "During the pandemic, social media companies finally realized misinformation is a life-or-death issue because medical misinformation about covid had such dire consequences it could not be ignored."

Dreyfuss slammed Musk’s removal of the policy, saying, "Musk getting rid of these policies is backtracking on years and years of painfully won lessons on how to make the internet safe and not harmful."

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Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Lorenz quoted Max Jordan Nguemeni, a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who said, "A lot of what I do when I offer vaccines is combating disinformation. The spread of misinformation online on platforms people rely on for news, like Twitter, worries me, especially when I think about my patients who are more vulnerable, older or not English-speaking."

She also included comments from Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics fellow Jon Shaffer. He told her, "People with the purchased blue check marks will certainly sell snake oil and promote baseless ideas for their own personal and political profit, and the result will be that poor people will continue to die from covid."

The Post columnist featured a statement from former Twitter head of trust and safety Yoel Roth who said Musk’s decision to end the policy was "bad and damaging."

She accused Musk of spreading COVID-19 misinformation of his own. 

"In 2020, he claimed that coronavirus cases would be ‘close to zero’ by April 2020. He also told SpaceX workers in March 2020, as the world was just beginning to shut down during the pandemic, that they were more likely to die in a car crash than of ovid," Lorenz wrote. 

Billionaire industrialist Elon Musk took over Twitter in late October and immediately fired several top executives. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto, CARINA JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images (Photo illustration))

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She noted how he "called virus-related restrictions ‘fascist’ on a 2020 Tesla earnings call," and that he "downplayed the virus’s death toll" during a podcast interview in 2020. 

"But experts say Musk’s decision will lead to more deaths," Lorenz warned. 

Gabriel Hays is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. 

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