Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been slammed for praising a fitness writer who claimed vaccines cause autism after appearing on his podcast.
The Twitter boss, 42, retweeted a post from fitness personality Ben Greenfield promoting his appearance on his podcast, saying the pair had a ‘great conversation.’
Almost immediately, the post attracted scrutiny from users who blasted Dorsey for sitting down for an interview with Greenfield, despite his track record of promoting widely refuted anti-vaccination theories.
Dorsey’s decision comes as other Silicon Valley giants, ranging from Facebook and YouTube to Pinterest, have all taken sweeping steps to crack down on the spread of ‘anti-vaxxer’ content on their platforms.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been slammed for praising a fitness writer who claimed vaccines cause autism after appearing on his podcast
‘Thanks Ben,’ Dorsey tweeted. ‘Great conversation, and appreciate all you do to simplify the mountain of research focused on increasing one’s healthspan! Grateful for you.’
Greenfield tweeted that he had recorded an ‘epic’ podcast with Dorsey, and that the pair discussed topics including DIY cold tubs and extreme time-saving workouts.
He added that they didn’t talk about vaccines during the episode, which is slated to be released later this month.
A source confirmed to NBC News that the pair didn’t discuss vaccine safety on the podcast.
Additionally, a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch that Dorsey was unaware of Greenfield’s beliefs on anti-vaccination.
The spokesperson added that Dorsey’s appearance on the podcast shouldn’t be interpreted as an endorsement of Greenfield’s anti-vaxxer stance.
However, Greenfield published a post just a few weeks ago falsely claiming ‘vaccines do indeed cause autism,’ before saying fact-checking organisation Snopes should not be trusted.
His tweet racked up more than 7,000 replies, with many users calling him out for spreading false information.
Matilda star Mara Wilson also criticized Greenfield at the time, saying: ‘They f***ing don’t, Andrew Wakefield was discredited, autism rates have risen in countries where they took out the supposed offending chemical, vaccines save lives.’
Many Twitter users questioned why Dorsey had given a platform to someone who ‘spreads misinformation’.
Alex Howard wrote: ‘Why are you giving a platform on your platform to someone who undermines @snopes & spreads misinformation about vaccines, one of the greatest public health successes in human history?’
Kirk Dedenbach added: ‘Awesome way to use your mega-platform – to promote an anti-vaxer in the midst of a measles outbreak. Well done! #genius.’
Susan Reiner tweeted: ‘Please. This is serious. Affects the health of so many. Make Twitter a place where real science plays a role in what we read.’
Disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield’s so-called research popularised the idea that the MMR jab could cause autism in the late 1990s, but the paper has since been widely debunked.
The pseudoscientific movement has seen a resurgence in recent years, with a report from the CDC last year finding that the number of unvaccinated children up to 35 months old increased four-fold between 2001 and 2015.
‘Vaccine hesitancy’ was also named as one of the top threats to global health in 2019 by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month.
There have been a number of measles outbreaks across the globe in recent months, with an unvaccinated French boy being suspected of reintroducing measles to Costa Rica – five years after the country eradicated the disease.
The move comes as Dorsey has been making the rounds on several popular podcasts over the past several months, in addition to sitting down for interviews with numerous major news outlets.
Twitter has been criticized for its inaction around anti-vaxxer content on its platform, as other tech giants have taken action against these types of posts.
Last month, YouTube announced that it would stop advertisements from running alongside videos that promote anti-vaccination content, saying it considers these types of content to be ‘dangerous or harmful.’
The move came after BuzzFeed News found YouTube’s ‘Up Next’ algorithm, which auto-plays a new video after one has finished, was recommending anti-vaccination videos.
Facebook stopped short of removing anti-vaxxers from its platform, but said it would no longer show anti-vaccination groups or pages in its recommended content.
The firm also plans to hide anti-vaccination content from appearing on Instagram.
Amazon on Tuesday said it would no longer host books promoting false autism cures or vaccine misinformation on its marketplace.