Chinese operatives helped amplify a viral text that incorrectly claimed President Trump was going to instate a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, reports The New York City Times United States officials said the operatives were engaging in disinformation strategies comparable to the ones Russia utilized in 2016.
The rumor, which acquired traction around mid-March, claimed to be originating from somebody near the White House It stated Trump was doing to lock down the nation to stop the spread of COVID-19 “Please be encouraged,” one version of the text message began. “Within 48 to 72 hours the President will evoke what is called the Stafford Act. Stock up on whatever you men require to make sure you have a two week supply of everything. Please forward to your network.”
On March 15 th, the White House National Security Council exposed the myth in a tweet, saying: “Text message reports of a nationwide #quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown.”
While Chinese operatives did not create the message, intelligence companies in the United States figured out that they assisted flow it across various platforms, including on Facebook and over SMS. “Those efforts allowed the messages to catch the attention of enough individuals that they then spread on their own, with little need for further work by foreign representatives,” the NYT reports
Sometimes, the agents created phony social media accounts to promote the message to people who were inclined to believe it. Those people then sent it out to their networks, enabling the myth to acquire traction.
The lockdown report isn’t the first coronavirus misconception that has actually been linked to China. Zhao Lijian, a Foreign Ministry representative, spread false information that the coronavirus might not have actually come from Wuhan, and was rather brought by the US military. “CDC was captured on the area,” he tweeted on March 12 th “When did patient no start in United States? The number of people are contaminated? What are the names of the health centers? It might be United States army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Reveal your data! US owe us an explanation!”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry denied that they had anything to do with the viral text, telling the NYT,” The relevant declarations are complete rubbish and not worth refuting.”