A verified Twitter account purportedly linked to a World Health Organization official claimed the Trump administration was secretly testing a coronavirus vaccine on Black Americans.
The bogus account, whose verification Twitter blames on a partner organization, uses similar tactics as the Iran-aligned "Endless Mayfly" network of inauthentic websites and personas to push disinformation and sow chaos, reported The Daily Beast.
“Recall your racist and secretive offer to WHO for coronavirus vaccine to be tested on poor Americans, black people of Birmingham, Alabama; prisoners and immigrants!" the account tweeted. "WHO has flatly rejected the offer, and firmly stated that clinical trials would only apply to volunteers."
The account purportedly belonged to WHO assistant director-general Dr. Jaouad Mahjour and was apparently aimed at discrediting U.S. vaccine research with a conspiracy theory that called to mind historic racist conspiracies like the U.S. Public Health Service's experiments on unwitting Black men at Tuskegee.
The verified Twitter account surfaced in May and began tweeting criticism of the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic, and the account was suspended after Twitter realized the account owner had submitted false information to a partner organization.
The quick suspension was expected by the account owner, who tried to use that as evidence of a fake coverup to make their bogus claims seem even more provocative.
“It is likely that some will claim that this official account was hacked or even worse when I’ll be forced to deny myself as the Director General was on many occasions, and even received online death threats,” the account predicted soon after going active.
Endless Mayfly is aligned with Iran, according to intelligence experts, and primarily targets Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. with disinformation, although Iran's government isn't necessarily behind the propaganda operations.
Iran is currently conducting an active campaign to hurt Trump's re-election chances, according to intelligence officials, although the bogus WHO tweets' link to the country remain unproven.
“[Iran is] spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content” as part of an attempt to “to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections,” said Trump's top counterintelligence official, William Evanina.