In a severe move that has been widely hailed by free speech advocates, the German Public Relations Council, a standards-setting body, has officially reprimanded Pfizer partner BioNTech for trying to silence critics of X.
As Lee Fang reported, BioNTech’s attempted censorship targeted activists who have been critical of the pharmaceutical industry’s reluctance to share intellectual property rights, thereby making it difficult to produce generic and low-cost vaccines cost against COVID-19. The company reached out to Twitter executives in 2020, seeking to suppress those voices.
Through an extensive report, including analysis of emails from Twitter archives, it was revealed that BioNTech was working closely with Nina Morschhaeuser, a Twitter lobbyist in Berlin, to monitor and possibly “hide” the comments of those seeking a special exemption from World Trade Organization rules governing intellectual property and patent rights.
Rather than resist these overtures, Twitter management contemplated ways to weed out pharmaceutical critics by flagging posts as violations of the company’s terms of service.