Twitter marks Dutch populist's vaccine tweet 'misleading'

The Hague (AFP) –


Twitter marked a Dutch populist politician's tweet about the coronavirus vaccine as misleading a week before elections, continuing efforts against misinformation that saw the social media giant ban Donald Trump.

Thierry Baudet, the leader of the anti-immigration, eurosceptic Forum for Democracy (FvD) party, tweeted on Sunday that he would refuse to be vaccinated and said the jabs caused side effects.

"To be clear: I will ABSOLUTELY NOT be 'vaccinated' against corona. The risk of that virus to me is completely 'negligible'," Baudet tweeted.

"The side effects are severe. And the long-term effect on the immune system is completely unknown."

Twitter added a warning to the tweet on Monday with a blue exclamation mark saying: "This Tweet is misleading. Find out why health officials consider Covid-19 vaccines safe for most people."

It also blocked people from retweeting or replying to the message.

Dutch media said it was the first time Twitter had taken the step against a Dutch politician.

Twitter has significantly stepped up efforts against misinformation, notably marking several US election tweets by then-president Trump as misleading before banning him outright after rioters stormed the Capitol in January.

The Netherlands' general election on March 17 is set to be dominated by coronavirus, with the country still reeling from days of riots in January against a controversial nighttime curfew.

Baudet has sought to capitalise on a strain of Covidscepticism in the Dutch electorate, being the only major party to hold rallies despite government restrictions on gatherings.

Dutch prosecutors opened an investigation into Baudet for breaching Covid measures during one gathering, local media reported.

Despite a stunning success in senate elections in 2019, Baudet's party recently descended into civil war over a scandal about anti-Semitic and racist messages shared by youth members.

The FvD said Baudet had been "censored" by "American Big Tech"

"If that is not foreign interference in Dutch democracy, then what is?" the party said on its Twitter account.