While Twitter eagerly slaps warnings and labels on tweets from President Donald Trump like there’s no tomorrow, the platform is still unwilling to take action against Chinese misinformation.
Twitter placed an interstitial, or filter, over an image in a tweet from Lijian Zhao, the spokesperson for the Information Department of China’s Foreign Ministry, amid backlash for blatant propaganda posted on Lijian’s official Chinese government account.
Lijian, in a tweet pinned to the top of his account page, wrote: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, &call for holding them accountable.” The tweet included a picture of what appears to be an Australian soldier holding a knife to a child’s throat, and said: “Don’t be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace.” Twitter has labeled Lijian’s account as an official Chinese government account.
“Morrison said the Australian government asked Twitter to remove the post, but it was not flagged as ‘sensitive’ until hours later,” the New York Post reported. Twitter declined to confirm how long after Lijian’s tweet was posted that it placed the interstitial.
Twitter placed an interstitial that said, “The following media includes potentially sensitive content.” Users then have to click “View” in order to see the image. However, no other action was taken against the tweet or Lijian’s account.
Twitter has, historically, been slow to take action against misinformation from China. Twitter allowed Lijian to scapegoat the U.S. military as the source of COVID-19. The platform also allowed a video from the Chinese embassy in France entitled “Once Upon a Virus,” which contained several myths and pretended that the Chinese government and the World Health Organization were forthcoming about the virus.
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