China is lying and propagandizing on social media (again!), and now because it is about the deeply troubling and threatening worldwide Wuhan virus pandemic, two members of Congress want the nation’s leaders banned from Twitter.
Should they be?
In a letter dated March 20th, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove Chinese Communist Party officials from the platform because they are “using Twitter to disseminate propaganda in the midst of a dangerous global crisis.”
“While the coronavirus pandemic is afflicting families, governments, and markets around the world, the Chinese Communist Party is waging a massive propaganda campaign to rewrite the history of COVID-19 and whitewash the Party’s lies to the Chinese people and the world,” Gallagher and Sasse wrote.
The prime example that many have referred to is a March 12th tweet by Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, in which he accuses the U.S. military of planting the virus in China, in direct conflict with the well-verified fact that its genesis was likely in a filthy animal market in the city of Wuhan:
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
Zhao is typical of the CCP’s indefatigable propagandizing, issuing routine tweets about the nation’s benevolence and charity in dealing with the pandemic, while criticizing the Trump administration because the president has accurately characterized COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” Even this morning he retweeted a column from far-left Atlantic columnist Peter Beinart, highlighting this quote:
“The lesson of this plague isn’t that America should stop cooperating with China. It’s that America must rebuild the public-health cooperation that the Trump administration helped destroy,” @peterbeinart writes: https://t.co/kkE7ywxDXZ— ChineseEmbassyManila (@Chinaembmanila) March 30, 2020
As President Trump over the weekend extended social distancing guidelines for the nation to April 30th, due to continued increases in infections and deaths in the U.S., China continues to lie about the status and spread of the disease within its borders.
“China says they have no more new cases, no more new deaths, yet they just closed all movie theaters nationwide, only a few days after opening them up,” said Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Fox Business on Sunday. “Or look at some of the mortuaries in Wuhan itself. They say they’ve only had 2500 cases that have resulted in deaths, yet a single mortuary has ordered more than 5,000 urns. You can look at these basic facts to know that the Chinese Communist Party is still lying today as they were in December and January.”
So what should Twitter’s role be in policing China’s lies and propaganda, if any?
The CCP is undoubtedly evil, and ruthlessly suppresses its enemies within its borders and eliminates them when necessary. But lies and misinformation proliferate all over Twitter (and other social media) unfettered, and it is impossible to police all of it. But Twitter seems to have a small army of biased monitors who flag, down-rank, obscure and/or delete content posted by users in free countries – especially conservatives in America – as National Legal and Policy Center and others have documented extensively.
It would be easy to delete content posted by the obvious communists. It is true that, by their own words, the Chinese often call attention to their own absurdly false claims against verifiable facts – and in the context of Twitter’s forum, commenters are free to set the record straight and mock and ridicule accordingly:
Why wouldn’t you let the CDC go to China to study the virus, you guys wasted time. Some global partner you turned out to be.— IrritatedWoman (@irritatedwoman) March 13, 2020
Don’t blame other nations for your nation’s incompetence.— Red Nation Rising (@RedNationRising) March 13, 2020
How about you stop eating bats first then come back to the table— 𝗠𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗱 𝗦𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝘀𝘁©️ (@MadMikeOfficial) March 12, 2020
But the same is true for all other speech. Twitter often does not allow conservative speech to test the marketplace of ideas. It just censors it. Shouldn’t the Communist Party of China — arguably the world’s biggest menace — be subject to the same Twitter standards as American citizens?