Dec 12, 2022 - Health

Musk's Fauci tweet angers medical Twitter

Twitter screenshot. @emoryinfectdis

Members of the medical community lashed out at Elon Musk on Sunday after Musk tweeted, without apparent context, "My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci" in reference to the outgoing NIAID director.

Why it matters: Some medical experts have already left the social media platform since Musk took over and stopped enforcing COVID disinformation policies. However, many health care users have largely continued using Twitter.

  • Musk's Fauci tweet got more than 870,000 "likes" and 165,000 shares as of 7pm Sunday evening and garnered support from prominent conservatives like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
  • It came on the heels of another Musk tweet of a meme reading "Just one more lockdown, my king" that superimposed Fauci and President Biden's faces.

Between the lines: Multiple public health experts fired back, in part because the viral tweet could further inflame well-documented threats to Fauci, as well as to infectious disease experts more generally.

  • They also took issue with Musk mocking the use of identifying pronouns for gender inclusion.

What they're saying: "This is antithetical to what we stand for," Emory Division of Infectious Diseases tweeted. "ID programs should strongly consider leaving this space permanently if this is not taken down."

  • "Hey @TwitterSafety what happens when the owner of the platform is tweeting to get a scientist harassed or killed?" wrote Tara Smith, professor of epidemiology at Kent State University. She also detailed other platforms she was on, although she did not say she was leaving Twitter.
  • "This should be the last straw, y'all. Please decide on a new platform: Mastodon, Post, whatever. This ain't it," tweeted Danniel Zamora, infectious diseases acting assistant professor at the University of Washington Medical Center and Fred Hutch Cancer Center.

The bottom line: It's not clear there is any sort of exodus from health care experts on Twitter — plenty were still posting information Sunday after Musk's tweet — but the conversation around the idea is growing.

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