The American Heart Association (AHA) is the latest victim of Twitter’s censorship policies, with one of its posts discussing the ill effects of COVID-19 vaccines getting suppressed. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, AHA educates people on heart issues and was ranked as the 22nd largest charity in 2018 by Forbes magazine. Given such a prestigious standing, censoring AHA’s tweet has taken many by surprise.
On Nov. 8, AHA published a research report on its platform that investigated the effects of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines on the body. The study found that the vaccine “dramatically” increases the risk of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). The research team had applied cardiac tests to measure patients’ risk of developing new acute coronary syndrome within five years. They found a 14 point increase in such risks among patients.
“We conclude that the mRNA vacs dramatically increase inflammation on the endothelium and T cell infiltration of cardiac muscle and may account for the observations of increased thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, and other vascular events following vaccination,” an abstract of the study states. Later, the AHA attached an “expression of concern” to the study in which the association warned that the report potentially contains errors.
AHA posted a link to the report on their Twitter account. The social media company quickly cracked down on the post, showing a warning message to users who click on the study link that it might be “unsafe” to visit the AHA website. Such designations are usually attached only to suspicious websites harboring malware and viruses. Twitter had recently extended the purview of the designation to “misleading content.”
Twitter’s latest censorship crackdown comes as its CEO Jack Dorsey resigned from his post, allowing Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal to ascend as the new Chief Executive Officer.
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Some fear that Agarwal could be more pro-censorship, making things more difficult for Twitter users. In an interview with MIT Technology Review in November last year, Agarwal stated that one of the areas where Twitter’s role is emphasized is “who can be heard” and how the platform recommends content.
“Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation. The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed,” Agarwal said.