China has launched a Twitter offensive in the COVID-19 information war, more than doubling its number of official government tweets since January and in recent days using the platform to spread a conspiracy theory that the virus came from a U.S. government lab.
"The #US keeps calling for transparency & investigation. Why not open up Fort Detrick & other bio-labs for international review? Why not invite #WHO & int'l experts to the US to look into #COVI19 source & response?" the spokesperson for China's Foreign Affairs Ministry wrote in a May 8 tweet that has been liked more than 4,000 times.
The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is where the military houses and researches infectious diseases.
The Chinese have pushed out 90,000 tweets since the start of April from 200 diplomatic and state-run media accounts as part of an offensive in the COVID-19 information war, according to data collected by the Hamilton 2.0 dashboard of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a tool that aggregates accounts connected to the Chinese government.
Bret Schafer, the digital disinformation fellow at the alliance, based in Washington, D.C., has been tracking China's increasing social media output for months.
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