Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) signed a letter demanding that Twitter ban Chinese propaganda accounts.
The two Republicans sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey demanding Twitter ban Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and all foreign leaders who use Twitter while not allowing their citizens to do so. One egregious example was when Twitter allowed Spokesperson & Deputy Director General, Information Department, Foreign Ministry of China Lijian Zhao to point a finger at the U.S. and suggest, “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
The letter blasted the Chinese regime, “It is clear that Chinese Communist Party officials are using Twitter to disseminate propaganda in the midst of a dangerous global crisis.”
The letter then explained how this misinformation campaign is not just politically cynical, but dangerous: “[T]his propaganda obscures and confuses users over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and potentially undermines efforts to contain and control the outbreak.
“We believe this behavior more than warrants their removal from the platform. Additionally, given the humanitarian importance of free and open access to the internet, we believe that access to social media platforms should be denied to government officials from countries that prohibit their own populations from accessing this very content,” wrote Sasse and Gallagher.
It took a mere two sentences to scorch the hypocrisy of regimes using Twitter, while Chinese citizens cannot:
By banning Twitter in China, the Chinese Communist Party is keeping its citizens in the dark. By putting propaganda on Twitter, the Chinese Communist Party is lying to the rest of the world.
This letter comes at a time when Twitter announced that the platform is “expanding our safety rules to include content that could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.” Twitter also warned that its policies “might result in some mistakes.” Twitter has been making many bad calls about misinformation lately. Videos directly mischaracterizing President Trump’s statements by splicing audio clips together out of context have not been flagged as manipulated media, despite reported requests from the Trump campaign.
Donald Trump, Jr. roasted the platform for its bias and observed: “When Twitter goes so full Chinese propaganda that they’ve even lost The Daily Beast… .” He retweeted Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay’s comment: “New: Twitter says that rampant coronavirus disinformation from Chinese government officials, most notably MFA spokesman @zlj517, does not violate the company's terms of service.”
Lachlan Markay’s tweet itself was accompanied by a link to his article headlined “Twitter Says Beijing’s Coronavirus Lies Are Just Fine.” The article’s lede summarized that “Chinese officials have spread disinformation about the origin of the coronavirus, including blaming its creation on the United States.”