Covid-19 vaccines: 'The Beauty Myth' author Naomi Wolf is suspended from Twitter for spreading disinformation
Some celebrate the move, while other social media users say it impinges on freedom of speech
American author and journalist Naomi Wolf, best known for her notable feminist work The Beauty Myth, from 1991, has had her Twitter account suspended for sharing disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines, the pandemic and global lockdowns.
A purveyor of the 1990s "third wave" of feminism, who has been praised by Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan in the past, was using the social media platform to spread her staunch anti-vaccine views throughout the pandemic.
Last month, she said to a US congressional committee that vaccine passports had the ability to "recreate a situation that is very familiar to me as a student of history. This has been the start of many, many genocides".
Wolf has long been known for her liberal outlook, having aligned herself with causes such as Occupy Wall Street (she was arrested at a protest in 2011) or having her own #MeToo moment in 2004 when she wrote in New York Magazine that her Yale college professor had made unwanted sexual advances more than two decades earlier.
She was even a political adviser to former president Bill Clinton.
Lately, the writer, 58, appears to have taken a U-turn, instead finding allies in political far right figures, such as Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson. On Friday, her Twitter account, which had more than 140,000 followers, was suspended, after months of posts that had "seen her wade deeper into a conspiracist whirlpool", according to former fan and documentary-maker Benjamin Ramm, as reported by Business Insider.
Some of the claims the self-styled "Covid truther" has made include that the vaccines were a "software platform that can receive uploads" and they let you "time travel", that lockdowns were tantamount to "Jim Crow laws" and "the best way to show respect for healthcare workers if you are healthy and under 65 is to socialise sensibly and expose yourself to a low viral load".
She also called Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the US president and director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "satan".
Masks are also the subject of her ire, as she claimed the face coverings were causing children to forget how to smile. "Terrifying; children now don't have the human reflex that they when you smile at them they smile back," she wrote in a post in March. "I'm seeing kids with their lower faces hanging inertly, absolutely unmoving facial muscles, when they take their masks off. Dark circles under eyes from low oxygen. Lassitude."
Many of her admirers have been shocked by her change of attitude. "I daily get texts from friends and former friends telling me to 'stop'," Wolf wrote on Twitter. "One just messaged 'you're doing incalculable harm.'"
In her most recent post she said, “It seems urgent for public health to separate vaccinated people’s urine / feces from general sewage supplies / waterways till studies are done of how MRNA in sewage [and] drinking water will affect [us] all."
This is not her first foray into the world of conspiracies, as since 2013 she has promoted a few theories online. This includes saying the US military was importing Ebola from Africa, that whistleblower Edward Snowden might be a government plant and questioning whether or not the ISIS videos were real.
Wolf went viral in 2019 after factual errors were discovered in her then newly published book Outrages, which was born out of her Oxford PhD research into same-sex relationships in Victorian times. She was told of the errors live on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking.
Many social media users have reacted positively to news of the author's Twitter suspension. “Thanks, @Twitter, for finally suspending Naomi Wolf for spreading harmful and floridly delusional anti-vax disinformation,” one user wrote.
Others, however, see the move as a blow to freedom of speech, calling for her account to be reactivated.
Twitter said the suspension is permanent and no appeal will be allowed, The Guardian reported.
Updated: June 6, 2021 03:55 PM