- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 1, 2022

Another sign of the times at Twitter under Elon Musk: The platform is now fact-checking Beijing.

The Musk-owned social-media giant attached a note pointing out that most fentanyl comes from China to a Chinese government spokesperson’s Tuesday tweet slamming U.S. deaths from COVID-19, firearms and fentanyl.

“China is the main source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States,” said the fact-check, which linked to a 2020 Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence report.

The response came after Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, reacted to U.S. support for Chinese anti-lockdown protesters.

“The price of ‘freedom’ in the US: 1 million Covid deaths + 40,000 gun deaths per year + 107,622 Fentanyl deaths in 2021 alone,” she tweeted. “The American people deserve something far better than that. What we want is to protect our people’s lives and ensure them a better life.”

Some commenters swung back by blaming China for both fentanyl and the COVID-19 virus.

Tweeted Seattle KTTH-AM radio host Brian Suits: “Thanks for the Covid -You make the Fentanyl -Free people get to make their own choices.”

Added Gabriel Hatch on the @HatchHomes2 account: “Maaannnnn I dunno if I would be tweeting about other countries and Covid if I was a Chinese government official.”

Twitter’s crowd-sourced Community Notes, known prior to November as Birdwatch, allows users to flag information “they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context,” according to the Twitter website.

“We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable,” said the website. “Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.”

Mr. Musk, who took over Twitter in a $44 billion buyout in October, said in a Nov. 2 tweet that the “community notes feature is awesome.”

“Our goal is to make Twitter the most accurate source of information on Earth, without regard to political affiliation,” he tweeted.

In the last month, Community Notes has also flagged tweets by the White House and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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