Twitter decision to label Chinese public figures and media is political move to satisfy Trump: expert

By Wang Qi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/7 14:50:10

Twitter Photo: VCG

Twitter once again shows political bias against China and its cooperation with the US government as it has labeled a number of Chinese public figures and media organizations on its platform as "government accounts" or "state-affiliated media," while ignoring propagandist US accounts preaching antagonism against China, experts say.

Twitter announced on Thursday that the accounts of key government figures, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors and official spokespersons will feature additional labels with their titles. "State-affiliated media outlets" as well as their chief editors and senior staff members are also among the targets.

Although Twitter currently only labels state-affiliated accounts of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, US, Russia, UK and France - they said it will be expanded to include more countries in the future. 

Analysts believe that the move is clearly aimed at China and Russia, as VOA, the US propaganda machine funded by the US Congress, has not been labeled. Canada's state-run CBC has not been labeled as well. 

Twitter said it will no longer amplify "state-affiliated media outlets" accounts or their Tweets "through our recommendation systems including on the home timeline, notifications, and search."

So far, most of China's national media outlets have been labeled in the 24 hours since the announcement, including Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, China Central Television, China Daily, CGTN, as well as Global Times and its editor-in-chief Hu Xijin. All of these above-mentioned media had been designated as "foreign missions" by the US government, despite that the US ironically boasts about itself as a supporter of "press freedom." The move was regarded as a brutal suppression of the normal coverage and legitimate rights of Chinese media and journalists.

From the suppression of Huawei to the robbery of TikTok, the aggression shown by the US has spread even to individual Twitter accounts; however, posts on Twitter would not be regarded as a threat to the US' hegemony if the Trump administration is confident, observers said.   Twitter's move shows they are actively cooperating with the Trump administration to suppress voices from China, experts say. It is not a commercial practice, but rather a pure political move that damages the free online atmosphere, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday.

The move will halt people in the US and around the world from objectively understanding China, said Li, noting that technology should not be used in conjunction with politics.

Li believes that as a world-leading social media platform, Twitter's move will backfire, as it has not removed the political bias caused by anti-China accounts in the US.

In mid-June, Twitter said they removed 23,750 China-backed accounts, which allegedly spread geopolitical narratives favorable to the incumbent government. Some Chinese internet users were disappointed about the decision and wondered if Twitter had decided to kick out any and every piece of content that supported China, using freedom of speech as its shield and under pressure from the Trump administration.   

In the light of Twitter's latest move, some Twitter users said it is right-wing and pro-Trump media outlets like Fox News and Breitbart that antagonize China and spread lies, and such accounts should have labels to warn Twitter users instead.

"This is what a dictator does. Trump's message to Twitter [is] to curb what we see and hear. This is not good at all. Trump only wants us to hear his propaganda!" said a Twitter user. 

Posted in: SOCIETY

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