Lawmaker Urges Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to Remove Chinese Regime Propagandists

June 19, 2020 Updated: June 20, 2020

Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are not doing enough to limit the Chinese regime’s disinformation and propaganda on their platforms, according to scorecards released by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

The scorecards, released after two months of communications with the social media companies, graded them on whether they labeled posts by Chinese state-run media outlets, blocked Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials from having verified accounts, fact-checked posts, and had comprehensively removed CCP propaganda and disinformation.

Twitter ranked the worst of all companies with a score of D- for not meeting any of the criteria except the one on fact-checking.

“Of all the companies we engaged with, Twitter is the platform most heavily abused by the CCP,” the scorecard said. It said the company allowed the Chinese regime to spread misinformation about the CCP virus, including the unfounded theory that the U.S. army brought the disease into virus epicenter Wuhan.

“They are the most unwilling to do anything to stop the CCP from spreading harmful misinformation or provide transparency through labels that inform users they are viewing content from a state-funded or state-directed media outlet,” the scorecard said.

YouTube was given the grade of C- and Facebook C+, with both labeling propaganda outlets as well as conducting fact-checking.

“The Chinese Communist Party has weaponized American social media platforms to push their disinformation and promote their propaganda,” McCaul said in a statement. “The solution is simple—deplatform CCP officials and propagandists who consistently spread lies.”

The assessment comes amid rising scrutiny over Beijing’s disinformation and influence campaigns on Western social media platforms. During the pandemic, the regime launched an aggressive disinformation and propaganda campaign to deflect attention over its mishandling of the outbreak while portraying Beijing as a leader in global response efforts. Chinese officials and state-run media have also exploited the recent unrest over the police custody death of George Floyd to criticize the United States and democratic governance.

Twitter and Facebook did not respond to requests for comment. However, Twitter, in a statement to The Hill, referred to its removal last week of more than 170,000 accounts tied to a Chinese state-linked operation aimed at spreading disinformation about the pandemic, Hong Kong, and other issues. The company also pointed to the fact that it was the only platform that doesn’t accept advertising from any state-controlled media outlets.

YouTube told The Epoch Times that it has in the last few years initiated measures to tackle misinformation and disinformation on its platform. It said it promptly removed content that violates community guidelines, and reduced recommendations of videos that could misinform viewers.

A Facebook spokesperson, according to The Hill, referred to the company’s recent move to label state-controlled media outlets on its platform. This applies to Chinese state-run media such as Xinhua News, People’s Daily, and China Global Television Network (CGTN).

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