From being blacklisted from Twitter to verified: the case of a Stanford professor

Jay Bhattacharya had been blacklisted for speaking out during the pandemic and Elon Musk decriminalized it.

With Musk as CEO of Twitter, many accounts that had been blocked or deactivated for various reasons were reinstated. Donald Trump is the best known case, but there are many others. For example, another case is that of Professor Jay Bhattacharya, who had been placed on a "trending blacklist" to limit the scope of his account and was pardoned outright by the company's new CEO.

Last week, with the new information of the previous administration's handling of Twitter, it became known that Bhattacharya, a physician specialized in Epidemiology, expert in public health policies and professor at Stanford University, had been blacklisted. What was the reason? He co-authored the "Great Barrington Declaration," which spoke out against blocked accounts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the professor had not been notified, his account was not functioning normally. As Bhattacharya recounted, his tweets had "no chance of being put on a broader visibility setting." That is, despite receiving retweets, his messages were only seen by people who followed him and without exception. Apparently, the sanction came after several complaints from other users.

His visit to Twitter headquarters

With the change in the company's Executive Management his situation caught the public’s attention and Musk personally invited him to Twitter's offices to study the evidence of his case. He went to the San Francisco headquarters, where he met with the South African tycoon.

There, a specialist showed him all the files from his account, including his complete history on the social network and the personal data he provided when he opened his account. Bhattacharya was able to access information on some of his colleagues and saw how they had been blacklisted for calling for schools to reopen during quarantine.

"My sense is that he (Musk) bought Twitter in part because he is deeply offended by the idea that something like Twitter, which is so important for public communication… had put their thumb on the scale. It wasn’t specifically about Covid. Generally, his sense was that one side of the conversation wasn’t being heard on many, many issues…," the doctor said when asked about the Twitter CEO's stance.

After leaving Twitter's offices, Bhattacharya noticed that his tweets were beginning to be more widely circulated and on Thursday he reported that he had received verification on the social network. "Promoted from a fringe character under Twitter 1.0 to a verified person under Twitter 2.0," he wrote.