Twitter has made a quiet but notable move in regard to COVID: The social media titan revealed it is no longer enforcing policies against spreading misinformation about the virus or vaccines. Per Politico, the change came in the form of a policy update, which some users noticed on Monday night. The shift comes amid mass layoffs at the company that have strained remaining employees' workloads. As Politico notes, it also appears to be in keeping with Elon Musk's campaign to award "general amnesty" to banned accounts, which the billionaire Twitter owner mentioned last week in the course of reinstating former President Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, among others.
According to CNN Business, Greene’s was one of more than 11,000 accounts suspended for breaking COVID misinformation rules, which Twitter adopted in early 2020. (Greene is back to tweeting skepticism about masks.) While some lawmakers and most medical professionals praised policies set forth by Twitter and other social media platforms to combat misinformation, Elon Musk was never a fan. Musk also told investors in an April 2020 Tesla earnings call that COVID lockdown policies amounted to "forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their Constitutional rights."
Musk has had COVID at least twice, and though he’s said he supports vaccinations, he also told the New York Times that he wouldn’t get one. Informed that failure to follow that and other public health recommendations could lead to many unnecessary deaths, Musk replied, "Everybody dies." As Fox Business reports, Musk is a self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist." On Monday, he promised via tweet to publish the "Twitter files on free speech suppression," in what he sees as an effort to "restore public trust." (Read more misinformation stories.)