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Tipsheet

New Twitter Files Details How Pfizer Board Member Wanted the Site to Suppress Debate on COVID Vaccines

AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

The latest Twitter Files details how the social media giant responded to complaints from former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a senior board member at Pfizer, over posts he objected to on the site. 

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As reported by former New York Times writer and PANDEMIA author Alex Berenson, Gottlieb took issue with a post by Dr. Brett Giroir, former FDA acting commissioner, calling on the White House to “follow the science” and exempt those with natural immunity from vaccine mandates. Gottlieb’s objection came despite the fact that Giroir encouraged those who did not have natural immunity to “get vaccinated!” 


By suggesting some people might not need Covid vaccinations, the tweet could raise questions about the shots. Besides being former FDA commissioner, a CNBC contributor, and a prominent voice on Covid public policy, Gottlieb was a senior board member at Pfizer, which depended on mRNA jabs for almost half its $81 billion in sales in 2021. Pfizer paid Gottlieb $365,000 for his work that year.

Gottlieb stepped in, emailing Todd O’Boyle, a top lobbyist in Twitter’s Washington office who was also Twitter’s point of contact with the White House.

The post was “corrosive,” Gottlieb wrote. He worried it would “end up going viral and driving news coverage.” [...]

Through Jira, an internal system Twitter used for managing complaints, O’Boyle forwarded Gottlieb’s email to the Twitter “Strategic Response” team. That group was responsible for handling concerns from the company’s most important employees and users.

“Please see this report from the former FDA commissioner,” O’Boyle wrote - failing to mention that Gottlieb was a Pfizer board member with a financial interest in pushing mRNA shots.

A Strategic Response analyst quickly found the tweet did not violate any of the company’s misinformation rules.

Yet Twitter wound up flagging Giroir’s tweet anyway, putting a misleading tag on it and preventing almost anyone from seeing it. It remains tagged even though several large studies have confirmed the truth of Giroir’s words. (Unreported Truths)

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Another tweet from vaccine skeptic Justin Hart caught Gottlieb's attention the week after, which discussed the COVID risk to children. 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but a viral pathogen with a child mortality rate of <>0% has cost our children nearly three years of schooling,” Hart wrote. 

As Berenson explained, it's unclear what part of the tweet he objected to, but it came ahead of the release of Pfizer's shot for children 5-11. Twitter didn't take any action against it, however. 

This all comes as Gottlieb was also pressuring the site to censor Berenson, which he reported on last year based off of Twitter documents provided to him prior to Musk's takeover as part of his lawsuit against the company. 

Gottlieb then claimed during an appearance on CNBC, where he is a contributor, that he pressured Twitter to take action against Berenson over safety concerns for vaccine advocates. 

"I'm unconcerned about debate being made,” Gottlieb said. “I'm concerned about physical threats being made for people's safety."

On Twitter, he followed up: "Respectful debate and dialogue is one thing, and should be encouraged and protected. But there's no place for targeted harassment, and misleading dialogue which can instigate a small but persuadable group of people to make targeted and dangerous threats."

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As Berenson points out, he expressed no such concern over Giroir's tweet, he only worried about how the message would end up "driving news coverage." 

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