Pro-China social media accounts are pushing a new thread of propaganda about the origins of the pandemic, claiming that Covid was imported to Wuhan from the U.S. through a batch of Maine lobsters, the University of Oxford found. #NBCNewsThreads (1/6)https://t.co/xFnEgTBGKV
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 21, 2021
“Zha Liyou, the Chinese consul general in Kolkata, India, tweeted an unfounded claim that Covid-19 could have been imported to China from the United States through a batch of Maine lobsters shipped to a seafood market in Wuhan in November 2019,” said NBC News.
“It marks the latest in a series of theories that have been pushed by pro-China accounts since the start of the pandemic,” the report noted.
Since the discovery of the tweet, a researcher at the University of Oxford has identified over 500 Twitter accounts that have spread the message almost verbatim, translated into several languages “including English, Spanish, French, Polish, Korean and even Latin” that were posted between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. China time.
China has a vast network of paid internet trolls, called the Wumao Army, and the propaganda campaign tying COVID to US lobsters has all the hallmarks of a Wumao attack, such as “preferring to pump out government-suggested posts verbatim,” according to Foreign Policy magazine.
Despite the hardline stance Twitter, Google and Facebook have taken in trying to censor American conservatives, the woke social-media companies have shown little appetite for going after Chinese misinformation.
This is not the first time, however, that lobsters have been abused by China because of COVID.
Last year, China banned lobsters from Australia after the government down-under called for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
China often uses trade policy as a method of making its displeasure felt, while reinforcing the message with its army of Twitter users, both official and unofficial.
China has been encouraged in these tactics by a joint Chinese and World Health Organization report that said that COVID could have been transported to China via frozen food.
While it is easy to identify the Wumao accounts spreading the COVID theory, as soon as they are removed, new accounts sprout up.
“We slowed it down significantly, but we still see some coordinated effort to spread the message,” the Oxford researcher said about lobster-COVID theory according to NBC. “It seems like accounts are being set up now to replace the ones taken down in response to our investigation.”