Social media majors have been enduring a struggle against misinformation spread through their platforms for since long. As a coping mechanism, they have increasingly started to flag such fake information for their audience. However, this fact check does not always turn out to be as effective as it means to be.
Case in point, Twitter recently suspended the account of Luigi Warren, apparently for violating the Twitter Rules. Luigi's now-penalised tweet addressed his views on whether spike protein is shed by people vaccinated with mRNA vaccines.
For those unaware, Luigi Warren is the current President and CEO of Cellular Reprogramming, Inc, a biotechnology firm based in California. More importantly, Luigi is renowned for his work with Derrick Rossi, the co-founder of the famous biotechnology company Moderna.
Back in 2010, Luigi and Derrick worked together to be the first to describe mRNA-based reprogramming in a pathbreaking paper in Cell Stem Cell, titled Highly efficient reprogramming to pluripotency and directed differentiation of human cells with synthetic modified mRNA. The work was named one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2010 by the journal Science, as well as one of the top ten medical breakthroughs of the year by TIME magazine.
In short, Luigi is one of the pioneers of the prevalent applications of mRNA technology, possibly including the Covid-19 vaccine. Twitter deleting his post on the grounds of fake information seems to be a bit far-fetched move in disguise of a fact check.
Luigi pointed this out in an appeal to the flagged content. He mentioned to Twitter how he believes that the reason he was locked out of Twitter is unfair and that he is "the inventor of the technology on which Moderna was founded," and so he knows what he is talking about.
The appeal was to contest Twitter's decision to block the content from public view. A report on the tweet left Luigi with only an option of deleting it for violating Twitter Rules. Though it was not specified which rules were violated by the tweet, it is likely that the content was marked for misinformation.
Luigi could appeal for the said violation being a mistake, and he did. Though that still means that he will be locked out of his Twitter account until Twitter reviews the appeal.
Note that Luigi's tweet claimed that people vaccinated with mRNA-based vaccines shed spike proteins, an idea that has repeatedly been rejected by scientists from around the world. Twitter marking it as misinformation is hence, not a completely baseless move.
The incident, however, highlights how the lack of accurate information around several theories is blurring the line between facts and misinformation. More so, in a space where public expression is meant to be the key. Because of the profound implications of information/ misinformation sharing through these platforms, the situation has come to a point wherein experts cannot weigh their opinion on such a crucial topic.
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