The conviction of Elizabeth Holmes was also a harsh verdict on the tech press that lionized her for a corporate scam that a jury now says was built on fraud.

Holmes was a media phenomenon, using her carefully crafted celebrity to defraud investors, and only a determined newspaper reporter did the digging needed to cause this house of cards to collapse.

The end of the Theranos saga comes as Big Tech is under unprecedented attack, its leading companies accused of silencing conservatives as they struggle to ban misinformation about the coronavirus.

And yet the likes of Twitter and Facebook, caught in this crossfire, have suffered self-inflicted wounds by repeatedly seeming to target high-profile conservatives.

Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes, center, walks with her partner Billy Evans, left, and her mother Noel Holmes as they leave the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on Jan. 3, 2022, in San Jose, California. A jury found Elizabeth Holmes guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud investors.  (Getty Images)

Monday’s jury finding that Holmes is guilty on four of 11 fraud charges dramatized how many rich people, and two major drugstore chains, fell for her bogus claims of a new fingertip blood-testing technology. 


The case "underlined her participation in Silicon Valley’s culture," The New York Times says, since she "used the mentorship and credibility of tech industry big shots like Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle … to raise money from others. She lived in Atherton, California, amid Silicon Valley’s elite and was welcomed into their circles."

The 37-year-old Holmes used the industry’s "playbook of hype" and "embodied start-up hustle culture. … She dismissed the ‘haters.’ ... She parroted mission-driven technobabble. She even dressed like Steve Jobs."

And with that ubiquitous black turtleneck, the media rushed to embrace her as the female Jobs. 

A gushing 2014 cover profile in Fortune – "This CEO is Out for Blood" – was introduced at the trial (Holmes said she regretted her communications with writer Roger Parloff, who has since published a major correction). That led to cover-girl treatment in business magazines and interviews with the likes of Charlie Rose and Jim Cramer. 

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos. (Associated Press)

It was only when John Carreyou of The Wall Street Journal exposed the travesty – despite Holmes’ threatened lawsuit and an unsuccessful plea to owner Rupert Murdoch, an investor in Theranos – that the media gradually realized they had been deceived.

Now it is social media that is grappling with a technology that actually works – Covid vaccines – and how to deal with those who lie about it.

The latest clash is with Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account Twitter has now banned after four previous suspensions. Facebook suspended her for 24 hours but took no permanent action.

The Republican congresswoman tweeted over the weekend that there have been "extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths," including what Twitter says was a misleading chart of government statistics. The CDC says adverse effects from the vaccine can occur but are "rare." 

A man receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine while at a federally qualified health center in Westbury, New York, April 29, 2021.  (Getty Images)

In August, the company issued the fourth of an allowable five strikes against Greene for falsely posting that the vaccines were "failing."

Greene, who was stripped of her committee assignments over previous rhetoric, is now calling Twitter "an enemy to America that can’t handle the truth," but not focusing on the substance of her vaccine accusations. Her congressional account remains intact.


The Georgia lawmaker is also fundraising off the Twitter ban.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is backing Greene, accusing Twitter of "silencing Americans." And Donald Trump, a Greene ally, is weighing in:

"Twitter is a disgrace to democracy. They shouldn’t be allowed to do business in this Country. Marjorie Taylor Greene has a huge constituency of honest, patriotic, hard-working people. They don’t deserve what’s happened to them on places like low-life Twitter and Facebook."

A Twitter spokesperson told me Tuesday of the move against Greene: "We’ve been clear that, per our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy."


In another instance – the banning of controversial vaccine researcher Robert Malone – the spokesperson would not identify the offending tweets but said the doctor "was permanently suspended for repeated violations of our Covid-19 misinformation policy." 

Malone drew national attention soon afterward by telling podcaster Joe Rogan that the Biden administration's approach to the vaccines was "lawless" – an interview that was then removed by YouTube. 

Trump is suing Twitter and Facebook for banning him, and that highlights the dilemma. These tech giants are understandably trying to protect public health by ridding their sites of falsehoods about the coronavirus and vaccines. But they are widely distrusted on the right because of a history of high-profile moves against conservatives, some of which had to be retracted. Just as Elizabeth Holmes damaged the reputation of Silicon Valley in ways that will echo well into the future.