Twitter Censorship Police Go After Sheriff Clarke And Others Over COVID-19 Conspiracy Tweets

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Written by Ann Brown
Clarke
Twitter censorship police go after former Milwaukee Sheriff Clarke and others over COVID-19 conspiracy tweets and spreading misinformation. In this July 18, 2016, file photo, David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis., speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. A jury on May 1, 2017, recommended criminal charges against seven Milwaukee County jail staffers in the dehydration death of an inmate who went without water for seven days. The jail is overseen by Clarke, but the inquest did not target him. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

During every national catastrophe, the conspiracy theorists come out. The coronavirus outbreak has brought them to Twitter with such a vengeance that the platform has pledged “to protect the public conversation around Covid-19”. Twitter has removed some tweets spouting conspiracy theories and misinformation about the outbreak.

It took down several tweets by prominent accounts that made misleading claims about the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Verge reported. The social media company says it’s following a “zero-tolerance approach to platform manipulation and any other attempts to abuse our service at this critical juncture.”

According to a Twitter spokesperson, the tech giant removed three posts by controversial former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who tweets under the handle @SheriffClarke, because the tweets violated its policy against encouraging self-harm

Clarke, who is anti-Black Lives Matter, was sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin from 2002 to 2017. An ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, Clarke had been considered for a role in the Trump Administration.

In one of the removed tweets, Clarke linked to an article about bars and restaurants being ordered to close. In the post, he encouraged them to remain open by writing: “Time to RISE UP and push back. Bars and restaurants should defy the order. Let people decide if they want to go out.” In another tweet, Clarke encouraged people to “get back to reasonableness” and “stop buying toilet paper,” and a third tweet suggested people “take to the streets.”

Twitter has suspended Clarke before. It took down his account in 2018 when his tweets advocated violence against the media.

In a March 4 blog post, Twitter outlined its policies “to protect the public conversation around Covid-19,” which include a search prompt that delivers information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government health organizations and a ban on ads that “opportunistically use the COVID-19 outbreak to target inappropriate ads.”

There has been a rash of bad information about the virus on Twitter. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted incorrect information about protecting against contracting the virus. She later deleted it. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) called out “blatant misinformation” in a tweet by the infamous programmer and businessman John McAfee in which McAfee incorrectly claimed that “Coronavirus cannot attack Black people because it is a Chinese virus.” The tweet was later deleted. McAfee’s account is still active.

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In a letter he wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Rush questioned what they were doing to prevent the spread of inaccurate information during the novel coronavirus outbreak. He asked what each is doing “to prevent misinformation from spreading” and “to ensure that race-based targeting and harassment are not allowed to propagate” on their respective platforms.

Still, Twitter has not taken any action against Trump, who continues to put out misinformation about the virus, most recently tweeting that the coronavirus was the “Chinese Virus.”

“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!” Trump wrote.