News and Commentary

Finally: Twitter Fact-Checks Chinese Officials After Facing Backlash For Singling Out Trump
witter logo is displayed on a mobile phone screen photographed on the People's Republic of China national flag background arranged for illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on 15th January, 2020. (Photo illustration by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Illustration by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After months of questions over why Twitter was ignoring incorrect and potentially dangerous Tweets from a Chinese official, the social media platform finally took steps to “fact check” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the “information department” of China’s foreign ministry, according to the New York Post.

Earlier this week, Twitter took steps to crack down on “misinformation” spread by President Donald Trump after the president tweeted a conspiracy theory linking Congressman-turned-MSNBC anchor, Joe Scarborough, to the 2001 accidental death of one of his Congressional aides.

Although the social media platform admitted it could not edit Trump — nor would it want to, given that the president is worth a reported $2 billion to the company’s valuation — it added “informative links” to several of Trump’s tweets on mail-in voting (though it now seems Twitter’s information on mail-in voting was, itself, faulty, as The Daily Wire reported Wednesday).

For months, though, Twitter users and media outlets alike have warned Twitter of Zhao’s tweets, which are filled with propaganda from the Chinese government and often contain inaccurate and misleading information about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Post reports that Twitter has finally taken steps to address Zhao’s issues, adding fact checks to several of Zhao’s tweets pointed out by the Post, including one that blamed the United States for engineering the novel coronavirus.

“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,” Zhao wrote.

And in another, “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!”

“The tweets in question contain potentially misleading and harmful content about COVID-19 and have been labeled to provide additional context to the public. This enforcement decision is in line with the approach we shared earlier this month,” the company said in a statement to the outlet.

Again, though, the “fact-check” is somewhat tepid. Twitter added, “Get the facts about COVID-19” to each of Zhao’s tweets — a statement that links back to a Twitter conversation page that discusses the origins of the novel coronavirus.

It’s not clear what Twitter is worried about when it comes to Chinese media. The site is blocked in China, as is Google, YouTube, and Facebook.

Twitter set off a furious back-and-forth with its accuracy enforcement efforts this week, leaving President Trump furious and threatening to introduce legislation that would subject Twitter to the Federal government’s scrutiny. The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, even chimed in Thursday morning, warning users to stop investigating Twitter’s employees, including its “site integrity” chief, who, it seems, regularly tweets far-left political statements, even though he is in charge of enforcing the site’s “neutrality” and overseeing the site’s censorship.

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