Twitter is targeting one of China’s chief propagandists after the company applied a fact-check label to one of President Donald Trump’s tweets.
The platform applied misinformation labels on two tweets from Chinese politician Lijian Zhao in March suggesting the United States brought coronavirus to China. Twitter previously said Zhao’s tweets do not violate the company’s rules, but the company updated its policies on May 11, effectively making tweets from world leaders subject to misinformation labels.
Trump’s tweet calling California’s mail-in ballot measure “fraudulent” was labeled as misinformation.
Zhao, the spokesman and deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s Information Department, tweeted in early March that, “It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” He also falsely suggested in the tweet that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield was “arrested.”
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough shared the labeled tweets with the Daily Caller News Foundation without revealing if other tweets from accounts linked to Chinese officials were similarly flagged. (RELATED: Twitter Dings Trump’s Tweets But Refuses To Fact Check Chinese Officials’ Virus Misinformation)
Twitter’s fact-check stated: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and redirected users to articles refuting Trump’s claim that California’s move to offer mail-in ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud.
Trump has a long history of lashing out at tech companies for supposedly discriminating against conservatives. He intends on doubling down Thursday with an executive order targeting social media companies.
Details about the order were not forthcoming, but The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that it will include three provisions: direct the Commerce Department to request that the Federal Communications Commission reexamines the scope of Section 230, a decades-old law protecting internet companies from certain lawsuits; send concerns about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission; and mandate that federal agencies examine spending on social media ads.
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