SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter said Monday that it suspended Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from her service for 12 hours after she sent messages that violated its policy of sharing misleading information about coronavirus.
Mrs Greene, a Republican in Georgia, has been an outspoken opponent of vaccines and masks as tools to curb the pandemic. In tweets Sunday and Monday, she argued that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people under the age of 65 who are not overweight, and said vaccines should not be required.
But cases of coronavirus are on the rise, and the highly contagious Delta variant accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States, federal health officials said this month. In Ms. Greene’s home state, Georgia, new cases have risen 193 percent in the past two weeks.
Twitter said Ms Greene’s tweets were misinformation and it prevented her from performing the service until Tuesday. “We took enforcement action on the account @mtgreenee for violations of the Twitter rules, specifically Covid-19 misleading information policy, ”Said a spokesman for Twitter. The company also added labels to Ms Greene’s post about the vaccines, calling them “misleading” and pointing to information about the safety of the vaccinations.
A spokeswoman for Mrs Greene did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter took action after President Biden called on social media companies to do more to combat the spread of vaccine misinformation on their platforms. On Friday, Mr. Biden that sites like Facebook “killed people” by letting misinformation flourish undisputed, adding: “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that – and they are killing people.”
His statement limited weeks of frustration in the White House over the spread of misinformation online, which has led to vaccine hesitation, health officials say.
Facebook, which took the burden of the criticism, claimed that Mr Biden’s statement was unfounded. “The Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of U.S. social media companies,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said in a blog post Saturday. “The fact is, vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the United States has increased.”
On Monday, the president mitigated his criticism, saying certain users were responsible for spreading misinformation rather than Facebook. The company should do more to combat “the outrageous misinformation” spreading on its platform instead of taking his remarks as a personal insult, Mr. Biden.
Twitter has long banned users from sharing misinformation about coronavirus that can lead to harm. In March, the company introduced a policy explaining the sanctions for sharing lies about the virus and the vaccines.
“We have observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric that is unfounded in research or credible reporting, and a wide range of unfounded rumors that are not contextualized can prevent the public from making informed decisions about their health and putting individuals , families and communities at risk, ”the company said in its politics against sharing Covid misinformation.
People who violate this policy are subject to escalating penalties known as strikes and may be subject to a permanent ban if they repeatedly share misinformation about the virus. A 12-hour ban, like what Mrs Greene is experiencing, is Twitter’s response to users who have either two or three strikes. After four strikes, Twitter suspends users for seven days, and after five strikes, Twitter completely blocks the user.
Other Republicans who have been suspended from Twitter have complained that the social media company is censoring them.
In January, Twitter ruled out President Donald J. Trump after the company stated that his posts on social media played a role in inciting violence during the riots at the U.S. Capitol. Sir. Trump has claimed that Twitter and Facebook, which also suspended his account, censored him, saying the companies demanded government oversight.
Ms Greene was previously suspended from Twitter in April, but the company said it was a bug caused by one of its automated systems for detecting spam and abuse.
“Everyone knows it’s a LIG and it was no mistake,” Mrs Greene tweeted after her suspension was lifted.