Beijing has been going to great lengths to track down users on Twitter and WeChat in order to quash negative news from being shared online - using intimidation, arrests, and threats of legal action.
Joshua Left, a 28-year-old entrepreneur who runs a self-driving car startup in Wuhan, China, arrived in San Francisco in mid-January for a vacation, just as the first reports of a new “SARS-like” virus outbreak in China reached the U.S.
He almost immediately began worrying about his family back in his hometown of Wuhan, where the disease appeared to originate, and where panic was starting to set in. Concerned that his family might not be getting information on the scale of the burgeoning epidemic, he posted messages on his WeChat account sharing information he was afraid were not available inside China.
“But then things started to get weird,” he told VICE News.
Left, who asked not to be identified by his full Chinese name, said he first received a warning message from WeChat administrators. Then he began receiving strangely specific messages that appeared to come from four of his friends on WeChat, all asking him for his location, what hotel he was staying at in San Francisco, what his room number was, and what his U.S. phone number was.
Then his cell phone received a warning message that someone in Shanghai was trying to log into his account.
Finally, when he wouldn’t tell them where he was staying, the same accounts all simultaneously began urging him to return to China as soon as possible. -VICE
Left has reported the incident to the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI, however no action has been taken by either.
China is also monitoring Twitter. While banned in the country, many are accessing the platform using virtual private networks (VPNs) - which are also illegal.
One user told VICE that CCP officials visited him at his home in Dongguan after he responded to a tweet criticizing the response to the virus. They told him that his tweet was an attack on the Chinese government and confiscated his phone before forcing him to sign an agreement promising not to repeat the so-called threat.
The user, Ming, told VICE that he knew of 10 other people who had been arrested for sharing coronavirus information during the same week he was interrogated.
The government is also erasing online protests following the death of a whistleblower doctor who tried to warn the world about the outbreak in late December. It is leveraging the popularity of WeChat to silence people outside of China who are attempting to share information with those in the country.
And just this week in Xiantao, a city of around 1.6 million people, the health commission published directives to health workers and government officials that outlawed everything from mentioning the outbreak in group chats to retweeting anything other than the official line, and giving interviews without permission. -VICE
Propagandists have never had it so hard.
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to skeptically examine and, where necessary, attack the flaccid institution that financial journalism has become.
to liberate oppressed knowledge.
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to facilitate information's unending quest for freedom.
our method: pseudonymous speech...
Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. it thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation-- and their ideas from suppression-- at the hand of an intolerant society.
The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. but political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.
Though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks) anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the united states. used by the likes of mark twain (aka samuel langhorne clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by alexander hamilton, james madison and john jay (aka publius) to write the federalist papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume. particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the united states, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech. like the economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker- as it should be. we believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn't.