The foreign affairs ministry of China has requested today, Friday that America’s Twitter Inc. should shut down accounts that smear The People Republic of China.
Without stating how it intends to compel Twitter Inc. to carry out the shutdown, China said that Twitter should shut down the accounts if the social media giant wants to fight disinformation, arguing that the country is the biggest victim of disinformation.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a briefing that many platforms had much falsehood about China and that there was a need for Chinese voices with objective views.
The requests is coming less than 24 hours after Twitter said it removed 170,000 accounts tied to a Beijing-backed influence operation that deceptively spread messages favorable to the Chinese government, including about the coronavirus.
The company suspended a core network of 23,750 highly active accounts, as well as a larger network of about 150,000 “amplifier” accounts used to boost the core accounts’ content.
Twitter, along with researchers who analyzed the accounts, said the network was largely an echo chamber of fake accounts without much further traction.
Twitter, along with other American social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram, is blocked in China.
The company also removed two smaller state-backed operations which it attributed to Russia and Turkey, both focused on domestic audiences.
Twitter said the Chinese network had links to an earlier state-backed operation dismantled last year by Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube that had been pushing misleading narratives about political dynamics in Hong Kong.
It is interesting to know that China blocks Twitter in Mainland China and it is only available to Hong Kong citizens.
Twitter has not reacted to the request. There are no guarantee that Twitter would agree to China’s request. However, China could move to block Twitter from Hong Kong as it plans to execute its controversial national security law on the semi-autonomous region.
In the last few weeks, tension has grown between the U.S. and China after President Trump accused China of manipulating the World Health Organisation to withhold information on the spread of the Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Apart from exiting the WHO, Trump also ordered the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to review its rules that will make it practically impossible for Chinese companies to list on American stock markets.