Promises made, promises kept. As RedState reported, Elon Musk recently said he would release data related to past banned accounts, and he’s done just that.
On Tuesday, Musk released publicly a report that explains how many accounts were banned due to supposed COVID-19 “misinformation.” He then dropped a bomb of a policy change, making it official that Twitter will no longer ban anyone for expressing varying opinions on the coronavirus.
You can view the full report below, but here are some of the highlights.
Curiously most bans happened earlier this year, peaking with 2.2k bans in January 2022. What happened then? pic.twitter.com/cDQuRQMeGI
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 29, 2022
This feels like a victory over two years in the making because it is. So many accounts on Twitter were banned over that period because they dared to break leftwing orthodoxy on COVID-19.
That most commonly took the form of suggesting the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China, a theory that now has more evidence for it than against it. Many were also banned for questioning the necessity of things like vaccine mandates and passports, since proven pointless, with suggestions about the vaccine’s efficacy becoming the third rail no one was allowed to touch.
It’s astonishing to think back on just how many things weren’t allowed to be said that have now been shown to be probable, if not true. Yesterday’s “misinformation” is today’s fact, from the lab leak theory to the revelation that the vaccines and masks don’t stop the spread of COVID-19. That was always the fatal flaw in the old Twitter regime’s pursuit. Even if you ignore the partisan politics at play, trying to decide what is and isn’t misinformation was a fool’s errand, too often reliant on someone “fact-checking” an opinion about a topic that the jury was still out on.
Of course, you can’t separate politics from what took place. Conservative accounts were targeted in large numbers, with over 11,000 of them being banned, while liberal accounts were allowed to spread all manner of misinformation on various topics with not even an eye being batted. Then there were the over 11 million “challenges” put on posts, which entailed a disclaimer asserting something was false because the “experts” said so when it often wasn’t.
That era is over, though. Musk has officially made the internal policy change to stop enforcing all “misinformation” regulations related to posting about COVID-19. No doubt, it will lead to wailing and gnashing of teeth from the powers that be. No doubt, it is still absolutely the right thing to do.
Free speech matters and a questioning public is a healthy public. It is not the media’s job nor the job of social media sites to dictate what is or isn’t allowed to be said. That we went so far down that road, only being turned around by a determined billionaire, is disturbing at best. There’s a sickness in the United States, which once lauded freedom of expression in all venues. Far too many people think they know best and are willing to crush the rights of others to enforce their viewpoints.
That has to stop, and for the moment, Musk has given Americans the tools to fight back with a public square on Twitter that doesn’t discriminate any longer. It doesn’t mean we’ve won the war, but it’s a victory that will go a long way toward turning things around.