US Lawmakers Call on Twitter to Bar Chinese Communist Party Accounts Over Virus Disinformation

March 21, 2020 Updated: March 22, 2020

Two Republican lawmakers are urging Twitter to ban Chinese Communist Party officials from the social media platform in response to the regime’s aggressive propaganda campaign to “whitewash” its coverup of the outbreak.

“While the coronavirus pandemic is afflicting families, governments, and markets around the world, the Chinese Communist Party is waging a massive propaganda campaign to rewrite the history of COVID-19 and whitewash the Party’s lies,” wrote Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) in a March 20 letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Twitter is censored in China, but dozens of Chinese diplomats, embassies, and consulates are active on the platform, pushing state-sanctioned narratives about the outbreak.

For instance, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian recently promoted the conspiracy that the CCP virus came from the U.S. Army, echoing the regime’s suggestion that the outbreak did not originate in China. Following the tweet, the U.S. State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador to the United States, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called a top Chinese diplomat to condemn state-led “outlandish rumors.”

“By banning Twitter in China, the Chinese Communist Party is keeping its citizens in the dark. By putting propaganda on Twitter, the Chinese Communist Party is lying to the rest of the world,” the lawmakers wrote.

They said that propaganda that obfuscates the CCP virus’s origin “potentially undermines efforts to contain and control the outbreak.”

“We believe this behavior more than warrants their removal from the platform,” they wrote.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak fueled its spread throughout China and across the world.

The lawmakers asked Twitter several questions, including whether it believes that Chinese officials are “engaging in a free and open exchange of ideas about the virus,” how it views such statements from China, and how it views its responsibility to users if these officials “indeed have ulterior motives and are deliberately spreading misinformation on your platform.”

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the lawmakers’ requests but confirmed the company has received the letter.

During a press conference on Friday, Pompeo also accused China, Iran, and Russia of making “coordinated efforts to disparage” the U.S. effort to contain the outbreak. Indirectly referring to Zhao’s tweet, he stressed that transparency and accurate information are what can protect the American public.

“I just urge everyone, as they’re seeing information—information that at one time suggested somehow this virus emanated from the United States Army. … Every American indeed, and people all around the world, should ensure that where they turn to for information is a reliable source and not a bad actor trying to create and flow information that they know is wrong,” Pompeo said.

He urged the regime to promptly inform the world about “what they knew and when they knew it.”

“We need to know immediately. The world is entitled to know,” he said. “The Chinese government was the first to know of this risk to the world, and that puts a special obligation to make sure that data—that data gets to our scientists, our professionals.”

“This is not about retribution,” he added. “We’re in a live exercise here to get this right.”

Follow Eva on Twitter: @EvaSailEast