The country’s largest social media companies are allowing the Chinese Communist Party to disseminate propaganda to American audiences with little oversight or warning, according to an ongoing congressional investigation into these companies’ failure to police suspect content.
Investigators with the House Foreign Affairs Committee have been pressing Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to deplatform Chinese Communist Party officials and news outlets for disseminating propaganda, particularly related to the coronavirus, but each of the sites has failed to take adequate action. In most cases, Communist Party propaganda freely circulates on these sites without labels identifying the information as questionable.
While each of these sites has begun aggressively policing conservative provocateurs and even President Donald Trump, they have been lax about applying the same standards to Chinese officials and state-controlled news outlets that regularly traffic in unfounded conspiracy theories, congressional officials with knowledge of the investigation told the Washington Free Beacon. In many cases, these websites allowed communist leaders and outlets to post outright lies about the coronavirus pandemic, including the claim that American military leaders created the coronavirus and planted it in China.
The investigation, run by House Foreign Affairs Committee leader Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), is part of a broader effort by congressional leaders to crack down on China’s influence operations in the United States.
The findings of the investigation were presented in the form of report cards grading each company on whether it has banned communist officials and news outlets, applied warning labels to their content, and fact-checked their claims for accuracy. All of the websites failed these tests: Twitter received a D-, Facebook a C+, and YouTube a C-, grades that imply each still permits the dissemination of anti-U.S. communist propaganda, often without warning labels for readers.
“The Chinese Communist Party has weaponized American social media platforms to push their disinformation and promote their propaganda. The solution is simple—deplatform CCP officials and propagandists who consistently spread lies,” McCaul told the Free Beacon. “Sadly, while we had some positive conversations and some steps have been taken, these companies have chosen to allow CCP officials to continue to operate on their sites instead of doing what’s right.”
McCaul’s team first started investigating these sites in March, when he petitioned them to ban Communist Party officials and state-controlled news outlets for their dissemination of lies about the coronavirus pandemic.
Twitter emerged as the most abused platform and also the one with the least oversight. While the company cooperated with McCaul’s probe, it did not remove any of the propaganda posts identified by the congressional investigators.