SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter said Monday it would suspend Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from its service for 12 hours after she posted messages that violated its policy of not sharing misleading information about the coronavirus.
Ms. Greene, a Republican from Georgia, has openly opposed vaccines and masks as tools to curb the pandemic. In tweets on Sunday and Monday, he argued that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people under 65 who are not obese, and said vaccines should not be required.
But coronavirus cases are on the rise, with the highly contagious Delta variant accounting for more than half of new infections in the United States, federal health officials said this month. In Ms. Greene’s home state of Georgia, new cases have increased 193 percent in the past two weeks.
Twitter said Ms. Greene’s tweets were disinformation and banned her from the service until Tuesday. “We take compliance measures on the account @mtgreenee for violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically the Covid-19 misleading information policy“Said a Twitter spokesperson. The company also added labels to Ms. Greene’s vaccine posts, calling them “misleading” and pointing to information about vaccine safety.
A spokesperson 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, Biden said sites like Facebook were “killing people” by allowing misinformation to flourish without question, adding: “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and stuff, and they’re killing people.” .
His statement capped weeks of frustration at the White House over misinformation spreading online, which has raised questions about vaccines, health officials say.
Facebook, which got the brunt of the criticism, argued that Biden’s statement was unfounded. “The Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, in a blog post on Saturday. “The fact is that acceptance of the vaccine among Facebook users in the United States has increased.”
On Monday, the president softened his criticism, saying that private users were responsible for spreading misinformation rather than Facebook. The company should do more to combat “the outrageous misinformation” spreading on its platform rather than take its comments as a personal insult, Biden added.
Twitter has long prohibited users from sharing misinformation about the coronavirus that could lead to harm. In March, the company introduced a policy outlining penalties for sharing lies about the virus and vaccines.
“We have observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, unfounded alarmist rhetoric in credible investigations or reporting, and a wide range of unsubstantiated rumors, which leaving them out of context can prevent the public from making informed decisions about their health, and puts individuals, families communities at risk ”, said the company in its politics against sharing misinformation from Covid.
People who violate that policy are subject to increasing punishments known as strikes and could face a permanent ban if they repeatedly share misinformation about the virus. A 12-hour ban, like the one Ms. Greene is experiencing, is Twitter’s response to users who have two or three strikes. After four strikes, Twitter suspends users for seven days, and after five strikes, Twitter completely bans the user.
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. Trump has argued that Twitter and Facebook, which also suspended his account, was censoring him and said the companies required government oversight.
Ms. Greene was previously suspended on Twitter in April, but the company said it was an error caused by one of its automated systems for detecting spam and abuse.
“Everybody knows it’s a LIE, and it wasn’t a mistake,” Ms. Greene tweeted after the suspension was lifted.