Pharmaceutical giant Moderna allegedly conducted a covert campaign to suppress criticism of its experimental Covid mRNA vaccines, as per a recent report. The company is accused of extensive surveillance and influence operations to eliminate dissent or opposition to its vaccine from online discussions. Moderna, known for its mRNA Covid vaccine, achieved a $100 billion valuation during the pandemic.
The report suggests that Moderna expanded its efforts beyond pharmaceutical advancements into surveillance, propaganda, censorship, and public influence. The company reportedly collaborated with Public Good Projects (PGP) and former law enforcement officials in this endeavor. PGP is a non-governmental organization funded by the drug industry.
The campaign targeted what Moderna deemed vaccine “misinformation,” but its scale and tactics have raised notable concerns. The initiative blurred boundaries between public health advocacy and corporate surveillance. Moderna rapidly gained recognition during the pandemic, evolving from a relatively unknown biotech company to a well-known name. The company’s mRNA vaccine contributed to this success. However, as vaccination demand declined, Moderna faced a corresponding drop in earnings.
In response, Moderna implemented price hikes for its vaccines. Concurrently, the pharmaceutical company launched a marketing campaign to sustain its standing in the public health sector. Nikki Rutman, a former FBI analyst, spearheaded the company’s surveillance initiative. This operation monitors a broad spectrum of media outlets, employing advanced technology like Talkwalker’s “BlueSilk” AI to track vaccine-related discussions globally. The team raises alerts for narratives deemed potentially detrimental to Moderna’s interests or supportive of anti-vaccine sentiments. The proactive monitoring approach extends to public figures like Elon Musk, Tucker Carlson, and Russell Brand.
Moderna’s reporting on public figures does not necessarily challenge their vaccine-related claims but categorizes them as “misinformation” if perceived to encourage vaccine hesitancy. The collaboration between Moderna and PGP is noteworthy. According to UnHerd, documents suggest their initial collaboration on the “Stronger” program in 2021-22, targeting “misinformation” and influencing content decisions on social media. The relationship has deepened, with PGP playing a pivotal role in guiding Moderna’s strategy. PGP, leveraging extensive access to Twitter data and influence in shaping pandemic-related speech policies, actively collaborates with social media platforms, government agencies, and news websites to swiftly identify and counteract the “root cause of vaccine hesitancy” by addressing and suppressing misinformation.
Moderna’s disinformation initiative actively fuels the ongoing public discourse battles that have persisted since the early days of the pandemic. The primary goal is to quash anything that might undermine COVID-19-related policies, including lockdowns and efforts to promote widespread vaccinations. Uncovered documents shed light on the intricacies of a process that has stirred speech debates over the past three years.
As part of this effort, Moderna allocated significant financial resources to “independent fact-checkers” on social media. These so-called fact-checkers are tasked with suppressing any divergent viewpoints on social media platforms. Critics argue that what is often presented as combating disinformation is, in reality, corporate public relations, attempting to shape public narratives in favor of the corporation’s interests.
Aaron Kheriaty, a bioethicist and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, points out the potential concerns: “Does anyone really want to live under a regime where their social media feed is essentially curated by the government or by multinational corporate interests that stand to profit, influencing opinion on these issues?”
Despite the growing opposition to social media censorship, the network of fact-checking “nonprofits” has rapidly expanded. This industry’s growth raises concerns about the covert influence of private and public interests over public discourse, blending public health messaging with corporate advertising in a sophisticated manner that warrants attention from those interested in preserving free speech against government control.
“This is an interesting peek behind the disinformation industry, what it actually does,” said Kheriaty.
“It’s about controlling a narrative, controlling the flow of information, controlling how people think about public policy, like the vaccine mandate, and how people think about a particular product that a corporation is profiting from,” he added.
“It’s deeply disturbing.”