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Vaccine Manufacturer Is Reprimanded For Online Censorship Attempts

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In a stern measure that has been widely hailed by free speech advocates, the German Council for Public Relations, a standards-setting body, has officially reprimanded BioNTech, a partner of Pfizer, for attempting to silence critics on X.

As reported by Lee Fang, BioNTech’s attempted censorship was aimed at activists who have been critical of the pharmaceutical industry’s reluctance to share intellectual property rights, thus hindering the production of generic, low-cost COVID-19 vaccines. The company reached out to Twitter executives back in 2020, seeking to suppress these voices.

Through extensive reporting, including analysis of emails from Twitter’s archives, it was revealed that BioNTech was closely working with Nina Morschhaeuser, a Twitter lobbyist in Berlin, to monitor and possibly “hide” comments from those demanding a special waiver of World Trade Organization rules that govern intellectual property and patent rights.

Twitter’s management, rather than resisting these overtures, contemplated ways to quash the pharmaceutical critics by flagging posts as violations of the company’s terms of service.

This calculated approach mirrored the pharmaceutical industry’s aggressive global lobbying push against any rules that might cut into their profits, even as a global pandemic raged.

The German Council for Public Relations expressed grave concern over BioNTech’s actions, highlighting that they seemed to breach transparency requirements and evade public debate. This warning resonates with a global populace yearning for open and honest dialogue about matters that directly affect their health and well-being.

Activists have reacted with outrage to the revelation, demanding more insight into the industry’s attempts to manipulate public opinion. The chilling reality that such powerful corporations sought to leverage their resources to suppress genuine concerns has rightly shocked many.

Further investigation into the relationship between social media and the pharmaceutical industry has exposed the extent to which companies have sought to influence online discourse. Pfizer and other pharmaceutical giants financed a group known as Public Good Projects (PGP) through the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

The PGP was granted special access to Twitter and even advised the company on which forms of information to censor. Emails reveal that PGP frequently flagged tweets and accounts as dangerous “misinformation,” including those that merely criticized vaccine policies or mandates.

The House Judiciary Committee’s request for documents from Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, is expected to uncover more about the BioNTech censorship request and initiatives like the Pfizer-funded PGP campaign.

In an era where free speech and transparency should be championed, these events serve as a grim reminder that vigilance is necessary to prevent the erosion of these fundamental values. The pharmaceutical industry’s apparent attempt to shape public discussion concerning COVID-19 policy must not be overlooked, and the actions taken by the German Council for Public Relations are an important step towards ensuring that the truth is not silenced.

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