Moderna, known for its mRNA coronavirus vaccine, reportedly engaged in extensive surveillance and influence operations, attempting to remove criticism or pushback against its vaccine from online discourse.
UnHerd reports that Moderna, the biotech firm raised to prominence by its mRNA coronavirus vaccine, is now at the center of a complex and controversial situation. While it achieved a staggering $100 billion valuation during the pandemic, recent reports suggest the company ventured beyond pharmaceutical innovation into the world of surveillance and public influence.
According to the report from UnHerd, Moderna developed an intricate network of monitoring that it aimed to use to influence the public discourse on vaccines. Central to this operation is a collaboration with Public Good Projects (PGP), a drug industry-funded NGO, and former law enforcement officials, aimed at combating what the company considers to be vaccine misinformation. However, this initiative’s scope and methods have sparked significant concerns about the blurring lines between public health advocacy and corporate surveillance.
During the pandemic, Moderna transformed almost overnight from a fledgling biotech firm to a household name, thanks to the widespread use of its mRNA vaccine. However, as the demand for vaccinations waned, so did Moderna’s earnings. In response, Moderna not only increased vaccine prices but also embarked on a marketing campaign to maintain its relevance in the public health sphere.
The company’s surveillance arm, led by Nikki Rutman, a former FBI analyst, monitors a vast array of mainstream and alternative media outlets. Utilizing advanced technology like Talkwalker’s “BlueSilk” AI, the team tracks vaccine-related conversations across millions of websites globally. High-risk alerts are raised for narratives that could potentially harm Moderna’s interests or bolster anti-vaccine sentiments.
This proactive approach to monitoring and influencing vaccine discourse extends to scrutinizing public figures like Elon Musk and Russell Brand. Moderna’s reporting on public figures’ comments on vaccines does not necessarily dispute their claims but flags them as misinformation if they are perceived to encourage vaccine hesitancy.
The partnership between Moderna and PGP, however, is particularly interesting. UnHerd claims that the companies initially collaborated on a program called “Stronger” in 2021-22, which aimed to identify misinformation and shape content decisions on social media, but that the relationship has grown between the pharmaceutical firm and the NGO. PGP, with its extensive access to Twitter data and influence in formulating pandemic-related speech policies, has been pivotal in guiding Moderna’s strategy.
Read more at UnHerd here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.