After thrashing Twitter's COVID-19 misleading information policy on November 23, Twitter chief Elon Musk wants the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Anthony Fauci to be prosecuted.
His tweet drew support from prominent conservatives like right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Musk's tweet acquired one million likes since the post on December 11.
But the billionaire was criticized by health experts like vaccine scientist and virology professor Peter Hotez who defended Fauci's work at the forefront of the US Covid-19 pandemic mitigation efforts.
Backlash from Experts and Lawmakers
"For the record, Dr Fauci has done nothing wrong, except serve our nation. In the meantime, Musk should know that 200,000 Americans needlessly lost their lives from Covid due to this kind of antiscience rhetoric and disinformation. Elon, I'm asking you to take down this tweet," Hotez said.
A Democrat from Minnesota, Rep. Dean Phillips called out the Twitter CEO for targeting Fauci who is also the Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States. "It's America. You can select any pronouns you damn well please," he tweeted. "But Anthony Fauci has likely saved more humans than any living person in the world. Shame on you."
The Republican leadership is investigating Fauci for his connection to the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic in funding over a decade of gain-of-function research.
Ongoing Criticism for COVID-19 Advisory
Fauci was initially hailed as a hero by some in fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. However, he was also condemned for his recommendations supporting social distancing, use of face masks and vaccinations to protect against the virus
In a recent interview with CNN, the expert said he could not be complicit in Donald Trump spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, and highlighted the form US president's comments on hydroxychloroquine and bleach. The outgoing NIAID director said he felt that he had to publicly disagree with the then-president despite his discomfort.
"I have such a great deal of respect for the office of the presidency that it just made me very uncomfortable, but I had to do it...because I couldn't stand there and be complicit in saying hydroxychloroquine works when it doesn't, you know. Bleach works, it doesn't. The virus is going to go away like magic. It's not."
Fauci revealed he never expected science to become so politicized. He believes it made him a "bogeyman of the far-right". "We are living in an era, I believe, where there is no much distortion of reality, conspiracy theory and untruths," he said.
Elon Musk's Twitter COVID Policy
Twitter has undergone enormous changes ever since Musk took over the charge of the microblogging platform. Twitter had said in December 2020 that it would begin to label and remove misinformation about Covid vaccines as thousands of accounts made false claims about the coronavirus and the adverse impacts of immunizations.
Musk had been highly vocal about how health officials reacted and handled the pandemic. During Tesla's first-quarter 2020 earnings call, he said stay-at-home orders were forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights. Musk even claimed that the mortality rate of Covid-19 was much lower than what the health officials estimated.
On November 23, Twitter's Covid-19 misinformation page stated that the platform is no longer enforcing the Covid-19 misleading information policy. Now, Musk's lash-out at Fauci comes after the fourth instalment of the so-called Twitter Files. These files suggest the platform violated its own policies in preventing the spread of accurate information regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story just ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.