Please Don’t Tweet COVID-19 Misinformation

The Met Gala was last week, featuring celebrities from all fields. All celebrities except Nicki Minaj, who announced on her Twitter account that she wouldn’t be attending.

“They want you to get vaccinated for the Met,” she said. “If I get vaccinated it won’t be for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now. In the meantime my loves, be safe. Wear the mask with two strings that grips your head and face. Not that loose one.”

Not sure what “research” she would need to do that anyone in the last year hasn’t done already. There are lots of good sources to get information from about COVID-19, such as the CDC. Minaj, however, chose a different source.

“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it and became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it and make sure you’re comfortable with your decision, not bullied.”

The government of Trinidad and Tobago responded two days later, saying they had “wasted so much time” examining Minaj’s story, finding no reported claims that such a side effect had appeared in Trinidad. Indeed, an article by Emily Willingham of Scientific American explains that COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility or sexual function.

To be fair, Minaj has shown support for the vaccines in other tweets, saying that “I’m sure I’ll be vaccinated…because I have to go on tour.” and recommending that people get vaccinated. Minaj also later claimed that the real reason she wasn’t attending the Met was because of her young child, though this was after the vaccination tweets. But she has also mocked followers and journalists who have been critical of her tweets, claiming that they are spreading fake news or attacking her simply because she is a woman of color.

Yes, you have a right to your opinion, you have a right to be doubtful about vaccines. But when you’ve got a platform of 22.7 million followers, you’ve got a responsibility to watch what you’re saying. I’m not saying you are never allowed to share doubts, but you have to be aware of the impact of your words and who they truly benefit.

I am not suggesting that Minaj is supportive of the antivaxxer movement (though she has tweeted in support of those who won’t be “bullied” into getting vaccinated), but anyone who looks at her Twitter at the moment could easily be convinced otherwise. Many in her replies spout the antivax, anti-journalism rhetoric that has played a part in damaging our country and elongating the pandemic. She has made no efforts to silence those people.

Spreading misinformation about the vaccine, whether you do it on purpose or you’re just sharing your thoughts, is dangerous. For someone with a platform like Minaj’s, her tweets could lead to the death of someone who took her comments as support for not getting the vaccine. I’m not suggesting that such tweets be banned. But I do think having a PR person handle your social media would be better than this whole scenario.

Categories: Opinion

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