Hundreds of keywords and keyword combinations, including “Wuhan seafood market” and “Sars variation” were censored in late December, as doctors sought to warn about the new virus. The report, by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk school of global affairs and public policy, found that between January and February, “a wide breadth of content” was censored on WeChat and YY, a Chinese live-streaming platform, including criticisms of the Chinese government. Speculative and factual information, and neutral references to the government’s handling of the outbreak, were also blocked.
Chinese social media platforms have come under greater pressure to censor content about the Covid-19 illness, which has killed 3,285 and infected more than 95,000. Critical discussion and investigative reports about the virus have been removed from social media sites and Chinese leaders have called for more control over online media to ensure social stability during the outbreak.