China’s WeChat censorship during COVID-19 outbreak poses public-health risk, researchers say
A new report published by researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy has illuminated the broad scope of information about the coronavirus that has been suppressed by Chinese authorities and what the implications of this censorship may by in terms of public health risks. One day after Chinese doctors reported the emergence of the mysterious virus, one of the most popular live-streaming platforms in China added over four dozen keywords to its blacklist. These phrases included “Unknown Wuhan pneumonia,” “SARS variation,” and “SARS outbreak in Wuhan.”
China has been regulating what its citizens can see and publish online for years, but the new Citizen’s Lab report claims that censored materials found on WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging, mobile payment, and social media app, consisted of government criticisms and references to Li Wenliang, Chinese opthalmologist, and coronavirus whistleblower. The censorship even extended to factual descriptions of the virus and public health messages on measures that individuals can take to prevent infection. Researchers at Citizen’s Lab reported that they identified 516 keyword combinations on WeChat that were blocked, and related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Read the Full Report Here: Censored Contagion: How Information on the Coronavirus is Managed on Chinese Social Media