Twitter Allows Ivermectin Fake News to Go Viral with Zero Fact Checks

Twitter Allows Ivermectin Fake News to Go Viral with Zero Fact Checks

Twitter is allowing a fake news story about the drug Ivermectin to go viral on its platform, despite its alleged commitment to “fact checking” so-called misinformation.

On Sunday, Rolling Stone reporter Peter Wade published a story quoting a doctor in Oklahoma, Jason McElyea, who claimed that emergency rooms in the state were so backed up due to ivermectin overdose cases that “gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities.”

The claim proved to be a complete dud. There is no surge of ivermectin overdose cases in Oklahoma or anywhere else, something Rolling Stone was forced to acknowledge in a lengthy correction to the piece.

Rolling Stone’s article now leads with the following:

The National Poison Data System states there were 459 reported cases of ivermectin overdose in the United States in August. Oklahoma-specific ivermectin overdose figures are not available, but the count is unlikely to be a significant factor in hospital bed availability in a state that, per the CDC, currently has a 7-day average of 1,528 Covid-19 hospitalizations. The doctor is affiliated with a medical staffing group that serves multiple hospitals in Oklahoma. Following widespread publication of his statements, one hospital that the doctor’s group serves, NHS Sequoyah, said its ER has not treated any ivermectin overdoses and that it has not had to turn away anyone seeking care. 

The Guardian, the BBC, and the Hill also covered the initial story uncritically, while left-wing influencers including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow amplified the story on Twitter.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square, attends the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021. (Photo by Marco BELLO / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square, attends the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021. (Photo by Marco BELLO / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP

Despite its alleged commitment to combating misinformation, Twitter has not added any labels to the story warning users that it contains fake news, something pointed out on the platform by Glenn Greenwald.

Why is this viral @Maddow tweet spreading a totally false story still up? Why doesn't it have a "DISINFORMATION" label appended to it by @TwitterSafety? Why hasn't Maddow herself removed it? Why hasn't Twitter?

Yes, these are rhetorical questions. https://t.co/xpRtlqvfBr

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 5, 2021

The misinformation caused one hospital in Oklahoma, Northeastern Health System Sequoyah, to issue a statement reassuring patients that there is no ivermectin-related overflow, and that patients suffering emergencies will be seen as normal.

“Although Dr. Jason McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah, he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for our emergency room. With that said, Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw location in over 2 months,” said an official statement from the Oklahoma hospital.

“NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose.”

“All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care. We want to reassure our community that our staff is working hard to provide quality healthcare to all patients.”

Rolling Stone has now updated its piece, placing NHS Sequoyah's statement denying Jason McElyea's claims at the top of the article.

The Guardian has also included the hospital's denial at the bottom of its piece. The Hill and KFOR (where the story originated) haven't updated yet pic.twitter.com/JPvfWOLDy7

— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 5, 2021

Twitter did not respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment on the matter.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.

Allum Bokhari