Pharmaceutical company Moderna has set up a specialized unit aimed at combating what it terms “vaccine misinformation” online. This department is dedicated to silencing dissenting voices and content that might challenge COVID-19-related measures like lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and widespread immunization.
Investigative journalists Lee Fang and Jack Poulson reported exclusively for UnHerd on November 20, revealing Moderna’s extensive monitoring efforts across social media, government channels, and news platforms. The company’s objective is to tackle what it views as the underlying causes of vaccine hesitancy by identifying and suppressing information that could negatively impact the discourse around vaccines.
Moderna’s internal documents shed light on a broad-scale surveillance initiative covering online discussions, social media chatter, and news coverage concerning vaccine policies, COVID strategies, the company itself, and other vaccine manufacturers. According to Fang, this surveillance team comprises former FBI and Secret Service personnel alongside entities like the Public GOod Projects (PGP), backed by pharmaceutical industry funds, and Talkwalker, an AI firm monitoring vaccine-related conversations across a massive online landscape.
PGP, labeled an “anti-misinformation NGO,” received substantial financial support from the Biotechnology and Innovation Organization, representing Pfizer and Moderna’s interests. Fang revealed these organizations’ direct involvement with major social media platforms like Twitter, Google, and Facebook to shape content moderation policies. They actively pressured these platforms to delete or diminish specific tweets critical of coercive vaccine measures.
Moderna’s reach extended beyond mere monitoring; it involved providing guidance to a network of 45,000 healthcare professionals on managing scenarios where vaccine-related misinformation gained traction, without the patients’ knowledge.
Critics, including Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, highlighted Moderna’s strategy as a means to attack vaccine critics and manipulate social media to stifle any discourse, whether factual or not, that might impact profits. The company wasn’t just targeting misinformation but also legitimate discussions around vaccine policies, including critiques of mandates and passports.
For instance, Moderna’s internal reports labeled discussions involving figures like Novak Djokovic and Elon Musk as “high risk.” Djokovic, having acquired natural immunity, was barred from competing due to his unvaccinated status. When he won an event sponsored by Moderna after mandates were lifted, the company saw this as bolstering anti-vaccine claims. Musk’s skepticism about vaccine effectiveness was also flagged, not because it spread falsehoods but because it challenged the narrative around COVID-19 vaccines.
In essence, Moderna’s scrutiny blurred the line between addressing disinformation and censoring legitimate debates on vaccine policies. They monitored discussions on profits, vaccine hesitancy, competitor issues, and even tracked politicians against vaccine mandates.
Amid dwindling profits post-peak vaccine demand, Moderna is intensifying its marketing efforts, emphasizing its mRNA technology’s potential beyond COVID-19. The company seeks to rebrand its COVID-19 vaccine as a symbol of a healthy lifestyle amidst challenges such as lost profits, legal disputes, and heightened competition within the industry.
In summary, Moderna’s vigilance extends beyond countering misinformation to stifling genuine debates around vaccine policies, reflecting a concerted effort to protect its interests in a shifting market landscape.
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