Twitter locked a political party’s account for sharing the truth about vaccines

Vaccines and the Twitter logo
Support us and go ad-free

Twitter has locked a registered political party’s account. It’s over a tweet the party posted on coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines. And clearly for Twitter, the party speaking truth to power over the situation with the worldwide ‘jabbing’ programme was too much for its algorithms to handle.

Free the North

The Northern Independence Party (NIP) is based in the UK. It’s a registered party. In 2021, the NIP stood a candidate in a by-election. The party describes itself as:

a democratic socialist party, who are committed to uplifting the voices of our members. We were founded in 2020 to combat the injustice of the north/south divide. We stand opposed to all forms of ideology based on hatred and bigotry.

The party has got a decent level of followers on Twitter – currently just under 60,000. But on 28 November, it took just one tweet about vaccines from the NIP account for Twitter to lock it.

Free the vaccines: too much for Twitter?

As NIP founder and leader Philip Proudfoot tweeted:

Twitter had still not unlocked the NIP account by 5pm on Wednesday 1 December. The tweet that caused Twitter’s algorithms to flag it said:

It shouldn’t take a new variant to do the right thing, but Omicron should be the wake-up call [to] Waive the Covid vaccine patents

You’d be forgiven for wondering what’s wrong with that tweet. Covax is a scheme set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that encourages rich countries and charities to buy vaccines for poorer countries. But the success of the scheme so far is debatable. It had only delivered 230m doses to poorer countries by the end of August. It was forecasting delivery of 1.1bn doses between August and the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, the vaccine roll-out had created nine new billionaires as of May 2021. So it’s no surprise that the NIP would call for firms to waive their vaccine patents. But clearly, Twitter’s algorithms didn’t like this.

Censored

The Canary asked the Twitter Comms team for comment. It hadn’t responded at the time of publication.

In an interview with The Canary, Proudfoot said of Twitter locking the NIP account:

imagine this had happened to Labour or the Tories… there would be mass coverage of this.

And he noted that:

an American tech firm’s automated intelligence algorithm has essentially, by effect, if not by intention, censored a registered UK political party… we’ve been effectively in essence, censored… this is quite worrying that this can happen to a political party in the UK that has stood in elections.

At the time of publication, Twitter had still not unlocked the NIP’s Twitter. This interference in a political party’s activities is unacceptable. Now, we wait to see what the tech giant’s response, if anything, will be.

Featured image via New York National Guard – Flickr and Prachatai – Flickr 

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. “Twitter had still not unlocked the NIP account by 5pm on Wednesday 1 December. The tweet that caused Twitter’s algorithms to flag it said:
      It shouldn’t take a new variant to do the right thing, but Omicron should be the wake-up call [to] Waive the Covid vaccine patents”
      As you obviously have access to the full tweet why don’t you post it?

    2. Perhaps Twitter will start censoring the Biden administration, which called for patents on COVID vaccines to be waived over six months ago?

      ‘In a historic move, the US government has announced that it supports waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, a measure aimed at boosting supplies so that people around the world can get the shots. “The extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” said US trade representative Katherine Tai in a statement.’
      Nature, 6 May 2021
      https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01224-3

    3. Twitter locked a political party’s account for sharing the truth about vaccines— The Northern Independence Party.
      //
      Interesting article this I do hope the bosses of twitter get them back up and running fast and stop messing with their right of freedom of speech in the U.K. (WE ALL HAVE HERE)
      Foot note to voters Tory +Labour have not taken fully our human rights away in U.K. or freedom of speech be they are getting their
      With ever change in the laws rules to bills they pass now.

      I would say this Tory -Labour will not comment of this matter as gaging a party that could win next G.E. if joined up with other X part members (M.P.) within U.K. Govt H.O. Commons now.

      I would like to know if Boris or Starmer had anything to do with the blocking of this party in private meeting with Twitter bosses?
      As now the shape of both Labour + Tory parties are in fallen apart
      At the seams, this new Independence Party would put the main 2 party at risk of losing the next G.E. voter are sick of Tory + Labour lies now to us public.
      Can I ask all U.K. M.P. + Minister + Leader of all parties within H.O. Commons + parliament have any of you put out miss information or dodgy statement out on Twitter to benefit your parties needs yes or no? but NOT ben bard by Twitter bosses pulling the plug on your accounts.
      Concluding
      To twitter bosses or rich broad member do any of you fund Tory plus Labour party with any election money to save you paying your right taxes or other bills within the U.K. yes or no? remember the truth may hurt all of you but we British voter expect the truth at all time not lies or dodgy public statement for our U.K. Govt parties Twitter bosses.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.