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Twitter Briefly Suspended The Federalist Over a Post Encouraging “Chickenpox Parties” to Solve Coronavirus


Palm trees stand behind a street art piece by artist Pony Wave depicting two people kissing while wearing face masks on Venice Beach on March 21, 2020 in Venice, California.

On Wednesday, Twitter temporarily suspended the account for the ultra-rightwing website The Federalist over a post linking to an article promoting using “chickenpox parties” to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.

Chickenpox parties were a thing before the chickenpox vaccine came on the scene in the 1990s. The idea is that a bunch of parents get their kids together to expose them to the virus in order to get it over with. Chickenpox is one of those diseases that is thought to be milder when contracted as a child, as well as one that you’re only supposed to be able to get once. (Although as someone who had it twice as a child, I can attest that’s not a guarantee!) Nowadays, “pox parties” are mostly just promoted by anti-vaxxers and, apparently, The Federalist.

The article that got the site briefly banned was written by a dermatologist (so, sure, technically a medical doctor but maybe not the best person to be weighing in here) who thinks this kind of party is an “outside the box” solution that can “turn the tide” of the coronavirus, which of course the site refers to as the “Wuhan virus.”

The article tries to back that argument up with nearly 2,000 words but let me save you some time and just say none of them are worth reading.

There’s so much wrong with this idea, starting with the fact that we don’t even know if people can contract the COVID-19 coronavirus more than once.

The Federalist’s Twitter account is back up, though the tweet has been deleted and a Twitter spokesperson told Mediaite “the account was temporarily locked for violating the Twitter Rules regarding COVID-19.”

In recent months, the platform has been implementing rules about the spread of misformation regarding a small number of topics, though until now, it’s primarily been limited to accounts spreading false info about vaccines.

While it’s nice to see Twitter shut down this sort of horrible, dangerous medical advice, it would be nice if they didn’t seem to enforce their policies arbitrarily and infrequently. From rightwing media personalities to hordes of bots to the President of the United States, Twitter is full of health-related disinformation right now. (And always.)

(via Mediaite, image: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.