Users started noticing the censorship of the hashtag on Wednesday, including British actor and entrepreneur Francis Boulle, who wrote on Twitter, "So instagram have blocked the hashtag #naturalimmunity as if there is no such thing. Insane. Go test it for yourself."
Independent journalist Luke Rudkowski tweeted, "Look what happens when you look up #naturalimmunity on Instagram," which included a purported screen capture of Instagram that had a pop-up window that read: "Looking for Vaccine Info? When it comes to health, everyone wants reliable, up-to-date information. Visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website has information that can help answer questions you may have about vaccines."
There are options to "Go to Website," "See Posts Anyway," and to "Cancel."
However, other Instagram users weren't even given the option to see the results for #NaturalImmunity. Turning Point USA activist Richard Armande Mills shared an alleged image from Instagram that stated, "This Hashtag Is Hidden. Posts for #naturalimmunity have been limited because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram's Community Guidelines."
Other Instagram users received the same message, such as former KSWB-TV reporter Merrilee Moore. The blocking of the hashtag ignited accusations of "big tech censorship."
Music director Robby Starbuck, who is running for Congress, cited a Fortune article with the headline: "Those with previous COVID infections may be less likely to catch Delta than those vaccinated with Pfizer."
The article detailed the results from an Israeli study on natural immunity from COVID-19 that stated:
People who recovered from a bout of COVID-19 during one of the earlier waves of the pandemic appear to have a lower risk of contracting the delta variant than those who got two doses of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. The largest real-world analysis comparing natural immunity—gained from an earlier infection—to the protection provided by one of the most potent vaccines currently in use showed that reinfections were much less common. The paper from researchers in Israel contrasts with earlier studies, which showed that immunizations offered better protection than an earlier infection, though those studies were not of the delta variant.
Rep.Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) shared a video of an Instagram user being blocked from searching the natural immunity hashtag.
"Instagram blocks #naturalimmunity hashtag," the Republican congressman wrote. "Don't forget Congress gave @CDCgov $1 billion to market the vaccines. I suspect a lot of that has made its way into the hands of social media companies. Also, factcheck-dot-org is funded by a group that holds $2 billion of vaccine stock."
Massie could be referring to a FactCheck.org article titled: "Instagram Post Missing Context About Israeli Study on COVID-19 Natural Immunity." The post attempted to dismiss parts of the Israeli study, and claimed, "The study's other finding that one dose of the vaccine enhanced protection for infection survivors."
At the time of publication, the hashtag #NaturalImmunity was still completely blocked on Instagram. It appears that the censorship of the hashtag has prompted users to create related hashtags such as #NaturalImmunityCommunity, #NaturalImmunityIsBest, and #NaturalImmunity with the middle finger and prayer emojis.
Image source: screenshot