søndag 8. mars 2020

Coronavirus disinformation creates challenges for China's government

The word "rumor" has taken on a different meaning in China since the death of Li Wenliang, the doctor who was punished for trying to warn others about the spread of coronavirus. Instead of doubtful hearsay, for many the word has come to suggest the inconvenient truths that authorities are trying to hide -- just like Li's attempt to expose a dangerous outbreak that has to date claimed more than 2,900 lives, including his own.

"Rumor is just a prophecy far ahead of our times," says a quote widely shared online in China in recent weeks.
The idea speaks to the mounting anger among many Chinese people over what they see as heavy-handed government censorship, with unpleasant truths written off as "rumors" and truth tellers threatened or faced with punishment. On Chinese social media platforms, authorities have paid a price for silencing the truth. In many posts, if the warnings of Li and other medical workers had not been muzzled, they could have raised more awareness among the public and perhaps better prepared them for the deadly outbreak, which has now sickened over 84,000 people and placed hundreds of millions under varying forms of lockdown.