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China Tech Groups Censored Information About Coronavirus


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WeChat blocked combinations of keywords and criticism of President Xi Jinping.

Chinese social media platforms censored keywords related to the coronavirus outbreak as early as December, according to researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab in Canada said Chinese social media platforms censored keywords related to the coronavirus outbreak as early as December, potentially limiting the Chinese public's ability to inform and protect themselves.

Authorities suppressed a wide range of speech—including criticism of the central government—to manipulate public sentiment.

Citizen Lab analysis showed that the YY live-streaming platform started censoring keywords about coronavirus one day after doctors attempted to warn the public about a flu-like pathogen, while the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat censored more than 500 keyword combinations over six weeks from Jan. 1.

Said Lotus Ruan of the Citizen Lab, “The broad censorship of the coronavirus we found is significant because blocking general information during a health crisis can limit the public’s ability to be informed and protect themselves."

From Financial Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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