Twitter’s decision came after close collaboration with a deeply controversial U.S. and Australian government-funded think tank that has been denounced by Australia’s former ambassador in Beijing as “the architect of the China threat theory in Australia.”
by Alan Macleod
Social media giant Twitter announced yesterday that it had shut down over 170,000 accounts favorable to the Chinese Communist Party, as well as more than 1,000 Russian and 7,340 Turkish accounts it claimed were parroting Putin and Erdogan propaganda.
Is this evidence of massive Chinese infiltration and control over Western social media? Not quite.
Not making the headlines was the fact that virtually all the accounts communicated in Chinese dialects exclusively and the vast majority (95 percent) had fewer than eight followers, with nearly four in five having no followers whatsoever.
Twitter accused the accounts of “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” pushing “deceptive narratives” on the Hong Kong protests, praising China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and “antagonizing” the U.S. If this is the basis for removal, it sets a potentially very dangerous precedent.
Despite the impression given in mainstream media, the medical community has effusively lauded Beijing’s “leadership” and “commitment to transparency,” in the World Health Organization’s words. “I have never seen the scale and commitment of an epidemic response at this level in terms of all of government,” said the organization’s Chief Executive Director for Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, “The challenge is great, but the response has been massive and the Chinese government deserve huge credit.”
Likewise, the editors of The Lancet, the world’s most prestigious medical journal, published a statement saluting the “diligent,” “effective” and “rapid” Chinese response and “strongly condemn conspiracy theories” pushed by U.S. officials like Senator Tom Cotton, that the virus’ origin was man-made.
Likewise, only around 58 percent of Hong Kong residents support the protests, with that number being far lower in Mainland China.
Is taking a different line on the protests or China’s COVID response to the Trump administration a violation of the rules? In the case of Facebook and Instagram and the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the platforms explicitly said it was, and deleted a great number of posts and accounts.
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