Saturday May 15, 2021
The free speech controversies roiling Big Tech have now reached the scientific sphere.
In mid-February, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by John Hopkins professor of medicine and public health Martin Makary arguing that a combination of vaccines and natural infections would result in herd immunity in many parts of the United States by the end of April. Facebook quickly flagged the editorial as “misleading” and having “very low overall scientific credibility.”
Whatever one may think of Makary’s claim about herd immunity, he is a distinguished scientist. In addition to authoring over two hundred papers and a New York Times bestselling book, Makary is currently the editor in chief of the leading clinical news site Medpage Today. And his case is no isolated matter.
Over the past few months, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have engaged in multiple acts of censorship against scientists holding a range of views on COVID-19 and the public health response to it. This censorship sets a dangerous precedent — allowing large, unaccountable corporations to set themselves up as arbiters of not only acceptable public speech, but also of what constitutes acceptable science.