Twitter fact-checked a Chinese government spokesman after he suggested the US brought COVID-19 to Wuhan

Twitter fact-checked a Chinese government spokesman after he suggested the US brought COVID-19 to Wuhan
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian attends a news conference in Beijing, China April 8, 2020.REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
  • Twitter has labeled two tweets from Chinese government spokesman Lijan Zhao with a fact-check icon.
  • Twitter applied the label to the tweets after being questioned by the New York Post over a potential double standard, following the company's decision to fact-check tweets from President Trump.
  • Zhao's tweets are from mid-March, and in them he suggests the US army could have been responsible for bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan.

Twitter has slapped its fact-check icon on tweets from a spokesman for the Chinese government a day after it did the same thing to President Trump.

Twitter added its "Get the facts about COVID-19" tag to tweets from Lijan Zhao, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry.

The tweets are from mid-March, and in one Zhao suggests the US Army could have brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak.

"It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation," Zhao wrote.

Clicking on the information badge takes you to a Reuters report on the World Health Organization saying the evidence suggests coronavirus originated in animals and not in a lab.


Twitter added its fact-check tag after being alarted to Zhao's tweets by The New York Post, the Post reports.

Zhao has a history of trolling the US and the Trump administration on Twitter.

The change comes as Twitter appears to be more willing to fact check tweets even from political figures, something its major rival Facebook notably avoids.

On Wednesday Twitter labeled two tweets from President Trump with the same fact-check badge. In the tweets Trump claimed that mail-in votes in the 2020 presidential election would be subject to voter fraud.

The Post says it pressed Twitter about a possible double standard in labelling Trump's tweets but not Zhao's. Initially Twitter said it wouldn't add the tag, but later said it would following a "further review," per The Post. Twitter did not directly respond when asked by Business Insider if this timeline is accurate.


"The Tweets in question contain potentially misleading content about COVID-19 and have been labeled to provide additional context to the public. These actions are in line with the approach we shared earlier this month," a Twitter spokeswoman said.

Trump, enraged by Twitter's move, has subsequently threatened to shut down social media companies, and the White House said he is due to sign an executive order "pertaining to social media" later on Thursday.

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