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'Twitter Files': Vaccine manufacturer pressured Twitter to censor content about generic vaccines

Unclear if Twitter took any action.

Published: January 17, 2023 12:44pm

Updated: January 17, 2023 12:58pm

A major vaccine manufacturer pressured Twitter to censor tweets from people demanding cheaper generic pharmaceuticals instead of expensive branded ones, a new "Twitter Files" dump showed this week. 

The revelation came from journalist Lee Fang, who wrote on Twitter that German pharmaceutical corporation BioNTech—the manufacturer of one of the numerous COVID vaccines currently in circulation—put "direct pressure" on Twitter 'to censor activists demanding low-cost generic vaccines for low-income countries."

BionNTech in December of 2020 "reached out to Twitter to request that Twitter directly censor users tweeting at them to ask for generic low cost vaccines," Fang said, citing emails between the two companies. 

Twitter "responded quickly to the pharma request," Fang noted, though ultimately it's "not clear what actions Twitter ultimately took on this particular request."

"Several Twitter employees noted in subsequent messages that none of this activism constituted abuse," Fang pointed out. "But the company continued monitoring tweets."

The latest revelations come as part of the ongoing "Twitter Files" campaign launched by Elon Musk to expose much of the social media company's censorship policies over the past several years. 

Previous reveals have shown the company had "constant and pervasive" contact with the FBI, and that Twitter leaders reoriented company policy in order to ban then-President Donald Trump from the platform.

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