Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos said Silicon Valley giants should ban Chinese officials who spread coronavirus misinformation on Twitter while depriving their citizens access to the platforms.
Facebook and Twitter should be more aggressive against policing their platforms for misinformation emanating from China and Russia, Stamos noted in a Washington Post editorial Tuesday with Renée DiResta, a research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO). SIO graduate research assistant Vanessa Molter contributed to the piece as well.
“[T]ech platforms should consider banning state media and government-representative accounts run by countries that block their own citizens from accessing these platforms,” they noted in the joint editorial. (RELATED: Former Facebook Exec Explains Why Media Are Botching Coverage Of Company’s Settlement)
Such a move will likely create some financial pain for some of the country’s largest social media companies, according to Stamos.
“But allowing state media to take advantage of freedom of expression to push Beijing’s narratives to the world, while not allowing its own citizens to see criticism or counter-narratives, is the height of hypocrisy,” Stamos and his fellow academics argued.
China blocks Google, Twitter and Facebook from taking a foothold in the country, while China’s information tzars use the platforms as weapons of misinformation against their perceived foes. Lijian Zhao, deputy director of China’s Foreign Ministry Information Department, for instance, told his Twitter followers in March that the U.S. Army injected the virus into China.
“The director of the US Centers for Disease Control was arrested,” Zhao said in the tweet suggesting Centers For Disease Control chief Robert Redfield was apprehended by authorities. Redfield was not arrested, and officials believe that the coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, before spreading across the world. The virus is responsible for killing more than 55,000 people in the United States.
Twitter told the Daily Caller News Foundation in March that Zhao’s tweets do not violate the company’s policy against spreading coronavirus-related misinformation. Neither Twitter nor Facebook responded to questions about whether they are considering Stamos’s suggestion.
SIO published research in March showing how Chinese state media use Facebook as a weapon to shift narratives.
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