Twitter Retroactively Fact-Checks Chinese Official's Tweet Months Later


Twitter is taking aim at one of China’s chief propagandists after the company applied a fact-check label to two of President Donald Trump’s tweets.

The platform applied misinformation labels on two tweets from Chinese politician Lijian Zhao from March that suggested the U.S. inserted coronavirus into China.

Twitter previously said that Zhao’s tweets did not violate the company’s rules, but Twitter updated its policies on May 11, effectively making tweets from world leaders subject to misinformation labels.

Trump’s tweets calling California’s mail-in ballot measure “fraudulent” were labeled misinformation.

Zhao, the spokesman and deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s Information Department, tweeted in early March that, “It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”

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He also falsely suggested in the tweet that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield was “arrested.”

Should Twitter have the power to label posts as misinformation?

Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough shared the labeled tweets with the Daily Caller News Foundation without revealing if other tweets from accounts linked to Chinese officials were similarly flagged.

The company’s fact check on Trump’s tweets Tuesday came amid criticism that Twitter has not been doing enough to push back against what many critics believe to be the president’s misinformation.

Twitter’s fact check on Trump’s tweets states: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and redirects users to articles refuting Trump’s claim that California’s move to offer mail-in ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud.

Trump has a long history of lashing out at tech companies for supposedly discriminating against conservatives.

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He intends on doubling down Thursday. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced Wednesday that the president will sign an executive order targeting social media companies.

Details about the order were not forthcoming, but The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that it will include three provisions: direct the Commerce Department to request that the Federal Communications Commission reexamine the scope of Section 230, a law protecting internet companies from certain lawsuits; send concerns about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission; and mandate that federal agencies examine spending on social media ads.

Trump is expected to sign the order Thursday.

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