The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) reportedly flagged Twitter accounts for promoting the lab leak theory of Covid origins, according to newly released documents.
The GEC wrote a February 2020 report titled “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Concerns,” with criteria such as blaming “research conducted at the Wuhan institute” for Covid, according to journalist Matt Taibbi’s “Twitter Files” reporting.
4.The GEC flagged accounts as “Russian personas and proxies” based on criteria like, “Describing the Coronavirus as an engineered bioweapon,” blaming “research conducted at the Wuhan institute,” and “attributing the appearance of the virus to the CIA.” pic.twitter.com/a4xBotQZ2m
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023
Other criteria reportedly used by the GEC to flag Twitter accounts included “describing the Coronavirus as an engineered bioweapon” and “attributing the appearance of the virus to the CIA,” Taibbi said. The GEC also flagged accounts that had retweeted news about Twitter banning the popular blog ZeroHedge after a report about lab leak speculation, Taibbi added.
The GEC report led to media stories in outlets such as Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Politico about foreign disinformation surrounding Covid, Taibbi reported. (RELATED: Adam Schiff’s Office Asked Twitter To Ban Investigative Journalist, Docs Show)
When the GEC wanted to publish a list of 5,500 Twitter accounts amplifying “Chinese propaganda and disinformation,” Twitter analysts were reportedly “beside themselves,” according to Taibbi. The platform reportedly did not want the GEC to “insert themselves” into its conversations with other intelligence agencies, Taibbi reported.
The GEC reportedly agreed to loop Twitter in before it went to the press with its findings, but Twitter was still concerned about the GEC’s technique for sharing materials with the press, Taibbi found. Twitter and the GEC subsequently had a public disagreement over the alleged Chinese accounts, Taibbi reported. The platform’s leadership viewed the GEC as “political” and “press-happy” in private correspondence, according to Taibbi.