Just one day after Breitbart News reported that Twitter had failed to “fact check” Chinese accounts promoting conspiracy theories about the Wuhan coronavirus, Twitter has applied a “fact check” label to two posts by China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian that were included in Breitbart’s report on the platform’s failure to hold the communist nation to account for its misinformation on the Chinese virus.
On May 26, Twitter added a “fact check” label to a pair of tweets from President Trump expressing widely-held concerns about mail-in ballots increasing the risk of voter fraud. The “fact check” link, which urged users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots,” directed users to a Twitter “moment” — a collection of links and tweets, handpicked by Twitter employees.
The “moment,” intended to fact-check the President, was filled with establishment media articles from CNN, the Washington Post and other outlets, baselessly asserting that Trump was lying about mail-in ballots. This is reportedly the first time the social media platform has branded Trump’s tweets with a link to a “fact check” of this type.
Breitbart News reported yesterday that despite the “fact-checking” of President Trump by Twitter, the site had failed to apply the same standards to other governments and heads of state. In particular, the site had refused to remove or even fact-check posts from Chinese government officials spreading conspiracy theories suggesting that the Wuhan coronavirus actually originated in the United States.
Today, Twitter added fact-check labels to posts by China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian, both of which were actually listed in the article by Breitbart News. The two tweets can be seen below:
This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
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
When viewing these tweets on the Twitter website, a tag appears at the base of the tweets featuring an exclamation point inside a circle with text that reads: “Get the facts about COVID-19.” When following the link in the tag, Twitter redirects users to a series fo tweets about the origin of the virus which emphasizes that the virus appears to have originated in animals in China, rather than in Fort Detrick in the United States, which many Chinese government accounts have suggested.
A Twitter spokesperson told Bloomberg News that Zhao’s tweets “contain potentially misleading content” about the virus and have been labeled “to provide additional context to the public. These actions are in line with the approach we shared earlier this month.”
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address email@example.com