Big Pharma Lobbied Twitter to Censor Posts Calling for Affordable Vaccines

Leading Big Pharma companies lobbied Twitter to censor posts from users calling for affordable vaccines for COVID-19.

According to Elon Musk’s latest installment of the “Twitter Files,” companies including BioNTech, Pfizer, and Moderna pressured the social media platform to censor calls for sharing their Covid vaccine patents and making low-cost generic treatments.

The same biotech companies also funded a nonprofit that created tools to fight misinformation.

However, the organization declined to flag misleading claims by Big Pharma.

The lobbying efforts by the pharmaceutical giants were detailed on Monday by The Intercept writer Lee Fang.

Fang was tasked by Musk with detailing his findings from the internal Twitter communications files.

It’s Fang’s second contribution to the Twitter Files, a series of reports by several journalists, who were offered access to the platform’s documents by Elon Musk after he bought the company.

One episode that Fang reported involves Nina Morschhaeuser, a lobbyist for Twitter in Europe, and happened in December 2020.

Morschhaeuser shared with colleagues a warning she received from the firm BioNTech and the German government about a campaign that could violate Twitter’s terms of service.

The campaign advocated for relinquishing patent protection to make the vaccines more accessible to poorer nations.

Morschhaeuser forwarded a request from BioNTech to “hide” posts by activists targeting the drugmaker’s account.

However, it’s not clear what action Twitter took, if any.

Slay the latest News for free!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Another section details Public Good Projects, an NGO that created tools to identify and report alleged misinformation about public health.

Among the organization’s targets are posts about the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Its Stronger campaign got $1,275,000 in funding from biotech firms, according to tax returns that Fang reviewed.

CEO Joe Smyser described the work as a good-faith effort to remove false information online.

Yet, The Intercept said some of the tweets it flagged for the platform were legitimate policy debates.

Some of the flagged posts were simply criticisms of vaccine passports.

Stronger also failed to target apparent misinformation that was beneficial to its funders.

It ignored a November 2022 claim by the industry group PhRMA that 4.4 million U.S. jobs could be threatened by waiving vaccine patent protections.

Smyser argues that his job was to encourage people to get a vaccine.

Big Pharma made billions of dollars in profits from Covid shots.

Its attempts to “stifle digital dissent during a pandemic, when tweets and emails are some of the only forms of protest available to those locked in their homes, is deeply sinister,” Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, told The Intercept.

In December 2020, while discussing how vaccine equity activists could engage in “spammy behavior,” Holger Kersting, a Twitter spokesperson in Germany, pointed to three posts that he said potentially violated terms of service.

Two of them came from Terry Brough, a now 74-year-old retired British bricklayer.

He laughed off the high-profile attention, telling Fang that he was “no Che Guevara.”

Brough said he prided himself on being considered “an activist” and wished he could do more.

READ MORE: Pfizer Pressured Twitter to Censor Natural Immunity Information

Advertise with Slay News
join telegram


Who is the best president?

By completing this poll, you gain access to our free newsletter. Unsubscribe at any time.

By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

Notify of
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x