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Twitter permanently suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal account over covid-19 misinformation

Temporary suspensions in summer came after she falsely claimed that the coronavirus was ‘not dangerous’ for some people

On Jan. 2, Twitter suspended the personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for violating the company’s covid-19 misinformation policies. (Video: Reuters)

Twitter has permanently suspended the personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), saying Sunday that the congresswoman repeatedly violated the company’s covid-19 misinformation policy.

The suspension came hours after she published a tweet falsely suggesting “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths.” Included was a chart featuring data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which details self-reported post-vaccine health issues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns do not imply causation.

The congresswoman’s verified personal account had been temporarily suspended two times over the summer. In July, she lost access for 12 hours after falsely claiming that the coronavirus was “not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” A month later, she faced a week-long suspension after falsely tweeting that the coronavirus vaccines were “failing.”

Twitter on Sunday cited a “strike” system for violations of its covid policy, which bars users from sharing content that is “demonstrably false or misleading and may lead to significant risk of harm.” Five or more strikes lead to a permanent suspension.

“We’ve been clear that, per our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy,” Katie Rosborough, a company spokeswoman, said in an email to The Washington Post.

Responding via a statement on the messaging app Telegram, Greene lambasted Twitter, saying it “is an enemy to America and can’t handle the truth. That’s fine, I’ll show America we don’t need them.” She shared the message through other social media outlets where she has a presence, including Gettr, a conservative-friendly site led by former Donald Trump adviser Jason Miller.

A group of Trump loyalists has seen its influence grow in Congress amid demands for political purity among Republicans. (Video: Zach Purser Brown/The Washington Post)

On Twitter, Greene maintains access to her congressional account, @RepMTG, as it is not in violation of company policies, Rosborough confirmed. The congresswoman’s most recent tweet from that account was a Dec. 24 video wishing her followers a merry Christmas.

Twitter has rules intended to limit the spread of misinformation on the site. Under those rules, misleading claims that could cause significant confusion or harm are subject to removal, labels or other actions.

Last year, the company permanently banned President Donald Trump, days after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The social media site had long resisted action against his posts, arguing that a world leader should be able to communicate with the public. But after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Twitter said the risk of further violence compelled it to act.

Greene’s rise has been marked by extreme rhetoric online and off, as well as support for QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory positing that Trump is working to take down a cabal of “deep state” saboteurs who traffic children for sex. She was elected in 2020 by voters in Georgia’s reliably conservative 14th Congressional District, in an ascent that worried some GOP officials.

Congressional leaders in both parties condemned her last spring for comparing face-mask policies to the Nazi practice of requiring Jews to wear Star of David badges. She apologized but has continued to attack coronavirus policies, refuse to wear a mask on the House floor and share false information about the virus.

Her personal Twitter account, @mtgreenee, faced escalating penalties in recent months as she ran afoul of the misinformation policy. The post that led to her permanent suspension was part of a Saturday thread comparing American life “Before Covid” and “After Covid” and blasting measures aimed at reducing the coronavirus’s spread, including testing, mask-wearing and vaccine mandates.

The tweet at issue claimed coronavirus vaccine deaths were being “ignored,” citing the VAERS data. But the database itself warns that the information can be incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental or unverifiable, saying that the “reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness.”

Health authorities have repeatedly emphasized that the vaccines are safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 496 million doses of vaccines have been administered between December 2020 and December 2021. In that time frame, VAERS received 10,688 reports of death among people who had received the shots — or 0.0022 percent — though those fatalities were not necessarily tied to immunization. Health-care providers are required to report any death after a covid vaccination to the system, even if it’s not clear whether the shots were the cause.

The agency last month recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots over those made by Johnson & Johnson, citing concerns about the increased risk of a rare but potentially fatal blood clot issue. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the move demonstrated the agency’s “commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public.”

Current guidance from the CDC describes the vaccines as “much safer than getting covid-19,” developed under intense safety monitoring and effective at preventing severe illness.