Twitter has committed to labeling tweets containing misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, but the company says a recent Nicki Minaj tweet which claimed that “the vaccine” made her cousin’s friend impotent does not violate its rules. There is no known scientific evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine could cause a fertility problem in men or women; the CDC dedicates an entire page to debunking those fears.
“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent,” Minaj tweeted to her 22.6 million followers. “His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”
While Minaj clearly suggests her followers should consider their decision to get the vaccine based on this information, it’s unclear whether any doctor traced her cousin’s friend’s condition back to a vaccine as the culprit or saw a larger pattern.
When contacted by The Verge, a Twitter spokesperson wrote “the Tweets you referenced are not in violation of the Twitter Rules.” While we only asked about a single tweet, Minaj has posted many tweets Monday discussing the vaccine. In one, she noted that “I’m sure I’ll b vaccinated” because of her need to tour.
Twitter has a number of functions in place intended to prevent the spread of COVID misinformation on the platform. In August, it launched a new feature to let people report COVID misinformation.
Minaj’s tweet currently carries no label pointing to scientific information about the COVID-19 vaccine, but people in Twitter’s Birdwatch program, which lets users fact-check tweets, have left over a dozen notes on the tweet about how the tweet is potentially misleading. However, Birdwatch is still in a limited pilot right now, meaning the significant majority of Twitter users can’t see those fact checks.