Republicans: “Twitter ‘too quick’ to censor GOP content, ‘too slow’ on Chinese propaganda”
09/29/2020 // Michael Alexander // Views

Social media and micro-blogging platform Twitter is guilty of selective censorship, a new report says, noting that while the entity regularly engages in high-profile flagging of several conservative politicians, it remains mum when it comes to misinformation put forth by the Chinese government.

Conservative online news channel Breitbart, in a report, noted that Twitter was quick to flag a video clip posted by the Trump Team on Twitter, which showed President Donald Trump talking about how children allegedly have a heightened immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

The same platform, however, has not applied the same standards to other personalities, particularly Chinese government officials, who have been noted as actively spreading unfounded theories suggesting that the coronavirus originated in the United States instead of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province.

As noted by the Breitbart team, the most that Twitter did was to add a note on tweets from official Chinese accounts – a far cry from the crackdown and outright censorship it enforced against President Trump and other key conservative American figures.

One such post was from Lijian Zhao, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, who, in a tweet dated March 12, surmised that "it might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” (Related: Twitter to add warning labels to "misleading" coronavirus tweets – but who's fact-checking Twitter?)

This conspiracy theory, which first spread on the Chinese social media network Weibo, was started by Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan, who, in a press conference in early February, noted that “though the COVID-19 was first discovered in China, it does not mean that it originated from China.”


According to the theory, SARS-CoV-2 was introduced to China when 300 U.S. military members arrived in the Wuhan region for the Military World Games in mid-October and infected the local population.

This theory has been debunked, with none of the service members who made the trip testing positive for the virus.

Zhao’s tweet, which demanded that the U.S. government give Beijing an “explanation,” received more than 15,000 likes and nearly 12,000 retweets.

Similar posts from Chinese government officials and official state affiliates have not been flagged, and in fact, have been allowed to flourish, not just on Twitter but on other platforms as well.

For instance, China’s state-sponsored international TV network CGTN posted an Arabic YouTube video in March, suggesting that the virus had American origins. This was echoed in April by the state-sponsored paper People’s Daily, who suggested on Facebook that an avian influenza experiment may have led to the COVID-19 outbreak.

That same month, Beijing’s ambassador to France tweeted a short animated clip that not only lampooned and mocked the U.S. response, but also suggested that China tried to warn America of the virus’ looming threat.

Twitter, for its part, maintains that it does not wantonly censor accounts, noting in a statement on its website that the platform’s mission is “to serve the public conversation.”

“We encourage a space that is safe and healthy, and censorship is not a part of our mission or platform,” the social media network said, adding that they will only suspend an account or ask users to remove content when there is a violation of their rules.

Conservative lawmakers to American social media platforms: "Do not let yourselves get used by China!"

Conservative voices have long decried what they say is a bias against them by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, noting that the platforms are too quick to flag their posts compared to those of their Democrat and foreign counterparts.

Sen. Michael Lee of Utah is among those who have aired their apprehensions regarding social media, noting in a letter that he is “most concerned” with company conduct such as censorship, that he believes is based on political bias instead of consistent, across-the-board content policies.

“I am specifically concerned about corporations wielding their power unilaterally to silence opinions they dislike, and thus warp the public debates their platforms present to the American people,” said Lee, a staunch Republican who also chairs the U.S. Senate’s antitrust committee.

Lee’s counterpart in Congress, Texas Representative Michael McCaul, meanwhile, echoed similar sentiments, noting that social media companies such as Twitter have to address the “abuse” being committed by the Chinese Communist Party online.

“I support free speech, but the Chinese Communist Party is abusing our First Amendment right, so I think social media companies have a responsibility,” McCaul said, noting that American social media networks must not allow their platforms to be used by foreign adversaries to “propagate falsehoods against the United States.”

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