Chinese police checking people’s phones for Twitter amid Covid protests: Report

Published on Nov 29, 2022 03:24 PM IST

Covid Protests In China: Authorities in China are randomly stopping people passing by and writing down their personal information.

Covid Protests In China: Barricades erected on a street joining Wulumuqi Road, a site of earlier protests, in Shanghai, China.(Bloomberg)
Covid Protests In China: Barricades erected on a street joining Wulumuqi Road, a site of earlier protests, in Shanghai, China.(Bloomberg)

Chinese police are searching for apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram in people’s phones amid unprecedented protests across the country against the nation’s “zero-Covid” lockdown policy, a report said.

Unable to post protest content on the Chinese internet due to censorship, users were turning to platforms like Twitter to share news of local public defiance, with dozens of such videos circulating outside the country, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Read more: Chinese university students sent home as Beijing quashes Covid protests: Updates

But authorities in China are randomly stopping people passing by and writing down their personal information if they find apps like Twitter or Telegram on their phones, reports suggest.

“If they face resistance, police would say they could report the person,” tweeted William Yang, the East Asia correspondent at German broadcaster DW News, adding that the checks are happening anywhere randomly.

China is witnessing massive protests against its Covid curbs, an unprecedented sight since the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The Chinese government has resorted to several tactics to curb the spread of information on the protests, including a spam attack on Twitter.

Read more: China's Xi Jinping will be overthrown if…: Tiananmen leader's dire warning

“Chinese bots are flooding Twitter with *escort ads*, possibly to make it more difficult for Chinese users to access information about the mass protests,” tweeted Mengyu Dong, a tech and censorship analyst.

“Sadly, if a Chinese person decides to come to Twitter to find out what happened in China last night, these nsfw posts shared by bots are likely the first to show up in their search results,” he added.

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