Ontario MPP's Twitter account temporarily suspended over COVID-19 mask shaming

Mar 2 2021, 8:41 am

Ontario MPP Randy Hillier has been a vocal critic of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, often airing his grievances on Twitter.

But after he shamed those wearing masks in a Twitter thread, the social media platform deleted the Tweet and temporarily suspended the politician from the network.

The Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston MPP posted a Tweet on Thursday, which said, “We must start shaming those who wear a mask, as they shame others, the masks are coercing us to live their lie. I will not do it. Join me in a crusade of honesty, not their March to tyranny. Boycott stores, politicians who lie, do not bear their false witness.”

The tweet was taken down from the website, citing that it “violated the Twitter rules.”

On Sunday, Hillier said, “I’m Back! Thanks for all the support.”

He added, “The trolls and bots got a workout yesterday reporting me. To appease the unruly mob, Twitter put me in time out. I’m recharged and ready for more.”

Twitter has implemented a strike policy if users spread misleading information on the virus, which has increased over the last year.

“Even as scientific understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, we’ve observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric unfounded in research or credible reporting, and a wide range of unsubstantiated rumours, which left uncontextualized can prevent the public from making informed decisions regarding their health, and puts individuals, families and communities at risk,” Twitter Safety says on their website.

Content can now be taken down if one shares information that misleads people about the virus; the efficacy and/or safety of preventative measures; treatments; official regulations; restrictions, or exemptions pertaining to health advisories; or the prevalence of the virus or risk of infection or death associated with COVID-19.

In addition, the company may label Tweets that share misleading information about COVID-19 to reduce their spread and provide additional context.

A strike system has also been put in place whereby if a person receives a strike, it acts as a warning. An additional two to three strikes issues a 12-hour lock on the account; four strikes will lock an account for a seven-day period. And five or more strikes will result in permanent suspension.

Hillier had already been under fire back in December 2020, when he told critics to “bring it on” after he posted a photo of himself with 14 other people in one room — a direct violation of the province’s lockdown orders.

He then posted another photo of himself congregating with a group of people inside a house on February 7, saying, “Know many people are enjoying friends and company regardless of the unlawful Ford government ‘Stay at Home Orders.’ I’m not playing this dishonest game of falsehoods & virtue signalling. Enjoy life, reject the exaggerated fears.”

Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston region is currently in the Green-Prevent zone, allowing most of the economy to reopen with physical distancing and mask-wearing still mandated.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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