Twitter disagrees with the US State Department when it comes to the way it sees and treats some Chinese officials pushing their own coronavirus propaganda angle on the social platform.
(While Twitter likes to ban people for offering an opinion they don’t think is acceptable, it’s well documented that China’s propaganda bots and officials are allowed to pretty much do whatever they want with impunity.)
But now, Twitter has addressed this – and explained its actions. In this case, Twitter at least bothered to respond to these reports – not something the social media giant normally does when it comes under criticism – which happens a lot.
The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) first said that it found out the Chinese government was responsible for a network of accounts that are busy proliferating their own version of the truth when it comes to coronavirus – or, as reports would have it, these accounts are straight-up disseminating fake news.
To be fair, the language here is similar to past Russia accusations: “highly probable” used by the GEC looks like a variation on now-iconic “highly likely.”
Not that any of that has stopped Twitter before from removing accounts – a large number of those said to be associated with Russia were deleted at one point, thanks to Democratic pressure during the Mueller report probe, as reports indicate.
But it seems obvious Twitter is picking its battles, and the one that the GEC is currently trying to fight doesn’t seem to be shared by Twitter.
The sample that the US State Department provided to prove that China, and specifically the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was at work here was small – but that’s how these things work. To be precise, the GEC let Twitter know about 5,000 of a total of one quarter million accounts were alleged to have official Chinese authorities behind them.
But according to Twitter, a look at the 5,000-account sample told them that these were legit operations such as government and NGO, as well as journalistic sources.
(Keep in mind that Twitter seemingly has no problem banning Western journalists from the platform, and has several times in the past.)
However, these are precisely the accounts that further China’s official narrative around the coronavirus pandemic – which the US, including State Secretary Mike Pompeo, have now on several occasions said was nontransparent, to say the least.