Twitter Flags China Spokesman’s Tweet on COVID-19


Twitter has flagged a tweet written in March by a Chinese government spokesman that suggested the US military brought the novel coronavirus to China, as the social media platform ramps up fact-checking of posts. Twitter posted a blue exclamation mark under a tweet by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, with a comment urging readers to check the facts about COVID-19.

“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!” Zhao wrote on March 12.

Clicking on the link directed readers to a page with the headline, “WHO says evidence suggests COVID-19 originated in animals and was not produced in a lab”.

Twitter fact-checked US President Donald Trump for the first time on Tuesday over his claims about mail-in ballots, under what it says was an extension of a “misleading information policy” aimed at combating misinformation about COVID-19.

Trump lashed out at Twitter in response and has said he would introduce legislation that may scrap or weaken a law that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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