American rapper Nicki Minaj’s claim last week on the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine drew wide criticism from health experts across the United States.
Minutes before the Met Gala on 14th September, the 38-year-old with a following of twenty-two million took to Twitter to explain she was missing the Met Gala event because she was not vaccinated – which was mandatory for participation.
Controversy erupted when the singer shared a personal anecdote on the same evening, claiming an acquaintance in Trinidad became impotent after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Her tweet which was shared 1,00,000 times and liked by 1,50,000 people, was widely criticized for fuelling vaccine hesitancy.
Just when we thought controversy around her tweet had run the course, Minaj reportedly shared a post on her Instagram story claiming that she has been put in “Twitter Jail”, a slang phrase used to describe when a Twitter user’s reach is limited by the platform for potentially violating the rules of the platform.
Minaj claimed her reach has been restricted as a response to her previous tweets on the COVID vaccine. The Instagram story, initially posted on 16th September was later widely reported by US media.
Minaj’s fans on social media did not take this well and amplified this information on Twitter with posts claiming ‘Minaj’s account is suspended’ trending since 17th September. According to some posts, Minaj’s account was suspended because she ‘dared’ to speak her mind about choosing to get vaccinated.
Twitter user and documentary film producer, Errol Webber’s tweet alleging that Minaj was censored on Twitter even though the Taliban was allowed to operate its accounts received over ten thousand likes and were shared over three thousand times within the first six hours.
On further investigation, we found similar posts on Facebook with hundreds of likes and shares. One Facebook user named ‘Ricky Spechh 2’, seemingly a vaccine skeptic wrote, ‘if the account is suspended for speaking out against the vaccine, you know something is not right.’
But was Nicki Minaj suspended from Twitter for her comments on vaccine side effects?
Our research found that the rapper who goes by the Twitter account name @NICKIMINAJ was not suspended. Her account is visible on the Twitter platform and even her tweet on the ‘vaccine side effects’ dated 14th September, can be accessed.
Twitter has not labelled Minaj’s tweet either as misleading information, disputed claim, or unverified claim. The platform uses these three labels to contain disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19.
Twitter refuted the singer’s allegations of restricting the reach of her posts and putting her in “Twitter jail”. In a response to Forbes magazine, Twitter said it “did not take any action on the account referenced… Minaj’s initial tweets about coronavirus vaccine side-effects earlier this week did not violate the site’s (Twitter’s) rules governing COVID-related claims.”
A Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider that since Minaj’s tweet is a personal anecdote on her cousin’s friend, “it didn’t violate the company’s rules”.
Twitter’s policy states that “for content related to COVID-19 to be considered violative under this policy, it must advance a claim of fact, expressed in definitive terms and personal anecdotes or first-person accounts is not a violation,” reported Business Insider.
Claims regarding the suspension of Nicki Minaj’s account are false. The rapper’s account is live and, her controversial tweet on the vaccine’s side-effect is also accessible.
Nicki Minaj’s Twitter page: https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ
Nicki Minaj’s tweet: https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/1437532566945341441?s=20
Twitter’s response to the Forbes magazine: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/09/15/twitter-denies-putting-nicki-minaj-in-twitter-jail-for-spreading-covid-vaccine-rumors/?sh=75c641863000
Twitter’s response to the Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/nicki-minaj-told-her-157m-followers-on-instagram-that-she-was-locked-in-twitter-jail-twitter-denies-it-/articleshow/86273722.cms