Twitter dismisses Clarence Thomas threat but censors peer-reviewed study on COVID vax and fertility

Yahoo allegedly throttling ex-NYU professor's conservative email newsletter, while oft-censored Babylon Bee says it got dumped by inbox management provider.

Updated: June 27, 2022 - 11:36pm

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Sharing a peer-reviewed study on temporary sperm reduction from Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine violates Twitter policies. The social media company isn't as sure about pledging to assassinate the Supreme Court's lone black conservative, however.

Big Tech's content moderation decisions are once again facing scrutiny following the Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, returning abortion regulation decisions to the states.

Justice Clarence Thomas particularly has become the subject of threatening language for his concurrence that said the high court should revisit other rulings that relied on "substantive due process," including those finding constitutional protection for contraception and same-sex marriage.

The Center Square collected several threats against Thomas and related tweets that arguably violate Twitter rules, including calls by verified users to burn down the Supreme Court building, while noting "several" had been taken down and "some have not." 

One of them, by the anonymous account "Redfern," said "i'm going to assassinate supreme court justice Clarence Thomas." According to a screenshot of a purported Twitter notice Friday to the user who reported it, the tweet didn't violate its safety policies.

Libs of TikTok said Redfern alluded to buying a gun days before the Thomas threat. A week earlier, prosecutors alleged the man who showed up at Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home with weapons and burglary equipment was upset about the leaked Dobbs opinion.

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While the Redfern tweet is now labeled as violating Twitter's rules, the company apparently didn't suspend the user. The account is labeled "doesn't exist," meaning Redfern shut it down.

Twitter may be playing catch-up after the public attention. One account reviewed by Just the News early Monday afternoon had been suspended two hours later, while another is now "protected," meaning the user limits visibility to approved followers.

Many of those tweets "were either deleted by the user before our teams could review and/or had action taken against them at the time of review," spokesperson Lauren Alexander told Just the News. 

She said its enforcement teams were "actively monitoring the service" for violations of several policies — "in particular, for wishing serious harm" on people — "and are staying vigilant for calls for violence, including threats against healthcare providers, public officials, and beyond." She didn't respond when asked about the Redfern tweet and account.

Brown University epidemiologist Andrew Bostom, by contrast, remains suspended by Twitter five days after he shared the results from a vaccine-sperm study in Andrology, published by the Andrology Society of America (ASA).

Bostom's tweet noted the Israeli researchers didn't measure the "boostering effect" and rhetorically asked if that would "yield another decline" in sperm concentration. Twitter said the tweet violated its rule against "spreading misleading or potentially harmful information related to COVID-19." Spokesperson Trenton Kennedy declined to specify how to Just the News, or explain why Twitter hadn't acted against ASA for publishing the study.

In a guest column for Legal Insurrection that noted his expertise in designing clinical trials and testimony on COVID-related legal matters, Bostom asked billionaire Elon Musk, whose Twitter purchase remains uncertain, to overturn the suspension.

Commenting on Bostom's suspension, science writer David Zweig accused Twitter of ignoring "a long list of public health professionals" tweeting "false data" from a non-peer-reviewed study that compared 26 months of pediatric deaths attributed to COVID to one year of child deaths from all other causes.

Bostom emphasized to Just the News that Twitter has also taken no action against White House COVID response coordinator Ashish Jha claiming that "there has not been any serious side effects" from COVID vaccines.

He said that's contradicted by a new study in Nature Communications by researchers at the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products. It found an "adjusted odds ratio" of myocarditis of 8.1 for the Pfizer vaccine and 30 for the Moderna vaccine, with the "largest associations" for Moderna in 18-24 year-olds.

"Estimates of excess cases attributable to vaccination also reveal a substantial burden of both myocarditis and pericarditis across other age groups and in both males and females," the peer-reviewed study said.

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Twitter isn't the only tech company whose decisions are puzzling users. 

Three months into its Twitter suspension for naming transgender Health and Human Services Secretary Rachel Levine its "Man of the Year," The Babylon Bee has been deplatformed by the company that manages its "team inbox," CEO Seth Dillon told Just the News.

The "customer communication hub" FrontApp said the Christian conservative satire website violated its user conduct policy but refused to specify how, Dillon said. FrontApp told Just the News it "does not comment on specific customers nor its internal decisions about relationships with its customers."

Retired New York University professor Michael Rectenwald said Facebook suspended him for "clearly criticizing" a screenshot of a threat against Justice Thomas that he posted. 

Rectenwald's Citizens for Legitimate Government notified email newsletter subscribers Wednesday that they must now visit its website for links to its news sources. CLG's web host determined that "certain Yahoo sub-domains" were "permanently" delaying delivery due to some of those linked sources in its news summaries.

Editor-in-chief Lori Price shared her messages with tech support with Just the News. After receiving a list of links in the newsletter, the support person noted several of them were from conservative news sources, naming Fox News and Breitbart in particular. "Do you really approve of those news sources Lori?" he asked.

Price also shared an email from a subscriber "who has me in their contacts," notifying CLG that Yahoo was still marking the link-less newsletter as spam. "I constantly have people asking me to subscribe," she said. "I go to add them — but they are already in the system."

Yahoo owner Verizon didn't respond to queries.

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