Did the Battle Against ‘Misinformation’ Go Too Far?

January 8, 2024


IN MARCH 2021, a Twitter user asked Martin Kulldorff if everyone needed to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Kulldorff, then a professor at Harvard Medical School, had spent 20 years researching infectious diseases and contributing to the development of the country’s vaccine safety surveillance system.

“No,” he responded. The vaccines were important for some high-risk people, he wrote, but “those with prior natural infection do not need it. Nor children.”

That advice put Kulldorf outside the mainstream in his field, and he soon faced consequences from Twitter (now known as X). The social network labeled the tweet as misleading and inserted a link offering users an opportunity “to learn why health officials recommend a vaccine for most people.” Twitter also limited the post’s ability to be retweeted and liked, Kulldorff said in a recent interview.


Facebook really did try, said the lead author, David Broniatowski, associate director for the Institute for Data, Democracy, & Politics at George Washington University. The company “clearly targeted and removed a lot of anti-vaccine content,” he said. But people simply shifted their attention to what remained.

“Just shutting down pages, deplatforming specific groups, is not particularly effective as long as there’s a whole ecosystem out there supporting that kind of content,” said Broniatowski.

Read the full article in Undark.