Twitter won't explain throttling tweet on FDA limiting J&J COVID vaccine for 'blood clot risk'

Three publishers used same wording in status or headline, but Twitter only penalized one, though it was later removed without explanation.

Published: May 6, 2022 12:23pm

Updated: May 6, 2022 1:17pm

Twitter applied a "misleading" label to a tweet about the FDA's basis for limiting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which bans replies, likes and shares, even though the social media platform left untouched tweets by different publishers with the same wording.

Breaking911, which bills itself "America’s #1 Alternative News Source," called out the discrepancy Thursday night after noticing the label on its tweet, which read "FDA restricts J&J's COVID vaccine due to blood clot risk." The label invited users to see "why health officials consider COVID-19 vaccines safe for most people."

The publisher tagged Twitter's expected incoming owner, billionaire Elon Musk, noting the Associated Press used the same headline word-for-word, although its tweet on the story specified the risk was "rare but serious." Another user said the New York Post used both the same headline and tweet status, with no label.

The label had vanished four hours after Breaking911 contrasted its treatment with that of the Associated Press. "You are now able to share a literal press release from the FDA," it tweeted.

Asked if the disparate treatment suggested human rather than algorithmic review of the Breaking911 tweet, resulting in both the label's application and removal, U.S. Policy Communications Manager Trenton Kennedy told Just the News "we've nothing to share." 

It was the same response he gave when asked about Twitter's recent rash of suspensions and lockouts of users known for questioning U.S. government COVID-19 messaging. 

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