A Republican running for Minnesota governor was removed from TikTok following complaints that he violated the platform’s misinformation policies in his viral posts about the pandemic.
The backdrop: Scott Jensen, a former state senator whose criticisms of the government's COVID-19 response attracted national attention, had amassed more than 280,000 followers since joining the platform last month. He said his posts were viewed hundreds of thousands of times a day.
- Of note: Jensen, who appeared to be one of the nation's most-followed politicians on TikTok, told Axios that he hoped the platform would help him connect with millennials.
What he's saying: In a video posted to Twitter late Thursday, Jensen said posts criticizing a controversial "60 minutes" story about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' vaccine rollout were taken down before he was "permanently banned without explanation."
- He told Axios several earlier posts had been flagged, but that he had appealed those decisions.
- "It's really pretty confounding, but it sure feels like being canceled," he said in his video.
The other side: A TikTok spokesperson confirmed the account was removed and said Jensen's posts violated community guidelines on misinformation related to COVID-19.
- She didn't specify which posts triggered the removal.
Between the lines: The family doctor garnered large online followings — and backlash — for his past statements on COVID-19, including comments suggesting the possibility of inflated death tolls.
- A complaint challenging his medical license based on those comments was investigated and dismissed by state regulators last year.
- Jensen said he hadn't posted about COVID-19 or vaccines in the last 24 hours and couldn't recall if posts related to the pandemic were among those that triggered violation allegations in the past.
- "A complaint regarding [misinformation] regarding COVID-19 is so broad I don't know how to respond," he told Axios in a text. "It seems like anything that goes against the conventional mainstream might be construed as misinformation."
This coverage is part of Axios Twin Cities, a newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.
This post has been updated with additional comments.
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