Internet search engines are dominated by misinformation about the origin of a new coronavirus spread with the help of the Chinese government

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Internet search engines have been dominated for many weeks by results referring to Chinese misinformation about the origin of covid-19.Although we and the media (China Digital Times and BBC) have covered this issue extensively, unsubstantiated information spread with the help of Chinese state media continues to circulate on the Internet. These results appear before relevant sources when keywords are entered. This is not only a problem for English-language search, but also for Czech search engines. The Chinese side is aided in spreading misinformation not only by algorithms favouring newly published information with more hits, but also by the lack of relevant information on certain keywords and topics.

Investigate the US, not China!
The most striking example of this phenomenon is the keyword search for Fort Detrick, the name of the US military base that Chinese conspiracy theories claim was dedicated to coronavirus research and from which the virus was supposed to have escaped before it began to spread on Chinese territory. Search engines link to Chinese English-language media, from which information is picked up by other sites and disseminated by social networks. The Chinese sources in these reports consistently refer to the 'dark' past of the Fort Detrick military base in Maryland, USA, and claim that the US military experimented with the coronavirus there and it was from here that it first escaped before entering Chinese territory. The reports seek to refute the generally accepted evidence-based consensus, recognised by the wider international community, that the virus first emerged in China. Among other things, the articles uniformly claim that the Fort Detrick base should be opened to international investigation, a demand reportedly made by 15 million Chinese (other sources say as many as 20 million) who have written and signed a petition to that effect. At the same time, they point to the allegedly frequent breaches of security measures at research centres on military bases on US soil and abroad, in which not only the virus causing the covid-19 disease but also other agents of disease or substances dangerous to health may have been released.

Such efforts by the Chinese Government are not only an attempt to cover up its own culpability in the spread of covid-19, caused by its initial denial of the existence of a new infectious disease, but also apparently in response to statements made by some Western politicians and the media. In the beginning, the pandemic was often referred to as the 'Chinese flu', and as a result public opinion of China and the Chinese people deteriorated rapidly. At the same time, misinformation emerged about the deliberate release of the virus by the Chinese government. At a time of rising Chinese nationalism, the CCP had no other response than to counterattack.

Now, seven major Western search engines (Google, Bing,, Yahoo, AOL, DuckDuckGo and Excite) display problematic results linking to sites with unsubstantiated Chinese disinformation in top positions when the keyword Fort Detrick is entered. The problem does not escape YouTube, which at the top of the list offers three videos supporting the Chinese narrative of the origin of the covid-19 disease. The Czech search engine also links to results that take Chinese news from state propaganda media, but unlike foreign search engines, most of the sites with this content are flagged as problematic. The world's largest search engines link directly to news from English-language Chinese websites, such as the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the Global Times news server,, and CGTN. In English, problematic content can be found on notorious disinformation sites such as Sputnik News and AC 24.

How does disinformation spread?
The spread of Chinese propaganda is aided by algorithms that favour results with higher read counts as well as those published more recently. These parameters thus favour the Chinese propaganda media and are very difficult to combat in a liberal environment. While the Western media are dedicated to publishing a wide range of news and cannot afford to write about the same things over and over again, the Chinese state media have no problem publishing a large number of reports repeating the same information over and over again. Thus, Chinese news outnumbers Western news not only because of its quantity but also because it is constantly being republished.

Another factor that Chinese propaganda uses to disseminate its news is the lack or absence of information on certain topics, the so-called data void. If there are not enough relevant sources on a particular topic, in this case the Fort Detrick military base, and it is also a topic that is frequently searched, it is easy for Chinese propaganda to either overwrite relevant information with its narrative or to directly assign entirely new content to the term.

China also spreads its unfounded theories via Western social networks, the use of which is banned on its territory. Thus, since May, Twitter accounts run by the Chinese government, which often have millions of followers, have sent out or shared nearly 1,000 posts about the Fort Detrick base. Most of these accounts, however, are likely fake. Already in 2019, Twitter has shut down 1,000 fake accounts that were part of a network of bots forwarding Chinese propaganda content, and suspended the operations of another 200,000 accounts. Fake social media accounts are also used to spread quotes from non-existent people, such as a Swiss biologist criticising the WHO.

Let us not forget how China dealt with the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic
Despite China's vehement attempts to spread misinformation about the origin of the new coronavirus causing the covid-19 disease, the fact remains that China not only failed to inform its citizens and the international community about the new disease at the time of the first outbreaks on its territory, but also strictly censored any information and arrested people for spreading it. Chinese policymakers initially denied the existence of covid-19, preventing a timely solution to the current problem. Thus, the disease was allowed to spread unchecked for many weeks not only within Chinese territory but also beyond its borders.

deepl translate


Dear @POTUS @JoeBiden, this is what #CCP says about #US and its #COVID19 situation. If you find #Chinese people hate #America, don't be surprised. It is time to ban #CCP propaganda and deport all the CCP "journalists" (aka spies) in the US. #中共國 的主播們真敢講啊。
The CCP Blames the US for COVID19 中共大罵美國是第一政治甩鍋國