The China-Based COVID Misinformation Operation Pushed A Fictitious Swiss Scientist

According to Facebook researchers, Chinese propagandists conducted an intricate online misinformation effort this year centered on an internet identity purporting to be a Swiss biologist to deceive the public about the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.

A Facebook user said that the US was applying undue government pressure on the World Health Organization to accuse China of the coronavirus. However, Edwards is not a genuine person, as the Swiss embassy in Beijing started in August.

According to Facebook experts, they discovered proof that a Chinese cyber security firm created the person. Although the figure received little notice in the West, he was dutifully quoted as a whistleblower on global health policy in Chinese state-sponsored media.

As per Facebook, the account was created by Sichuan Silence Information Systems, a company based in central China. As per its website, Silence was built in 2000 and provides a wide variety of information security services, notably to China’s Ministry of Public Security. They returned the email address on the company’s website as undeliverable.

In an email, Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington, stated that “China has displayed a scientific, professional, serious, and responsible approach from the very beginning” in worldwide attempts to explore the origins of Covid-19, but declined to comment on the Facebook account.

The initial instances of Covid-19 were traced to Wuhan, China, which is home to a famous virology laboratory and wet markets, which many specialists believe were the virus’s source.

While Facebook has been known to link misinformation efforts to specific government entities, they did not explicitly blame the Chinese government for the campaign. However, it did notice that numerous persons working for Chinese state infrastructure corporations throughout the world shared the message nearly quickly after it was posted, as did several false accounts. Almost no other reliable sources did.

Chinese state-owned media outlets, including People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, where the article is still online, and Global Times, where it has been withdrawn but is still archived, leaped on the story based on allegations made the persona. The tale was widely debunked in Western media, focusing on Switzerland’s statement that the scientist was not real.

Kyle Rittenhouse’s stance on Facebook has been reversed:

Facebook has overturned its decision to restrict searches for a US teenager acquitted of murdering two people during rioting in Wisconsin. However, a spokeswoman stated that “we will no longer delete information that contains praise or support for Rittenhouse.” He further claimed that Facebook was erasing Mr. Rittenhouse’s appreciation.

The policy went above and beyond those of other major social media networks. For instance, YouTube had no Kyle Rittenhouse policy and banned videos that violated existing anti-glorification rules. Last year, the boy admitted to murdering two people and injuring a third during racial rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but said he was acting in self-defense.

Mr. Rittenhouse is viewed as a national hero by some, while he is considered to be a hasty vigilante by others. Choosing where to draw the line between endorsement and celebration of violence is a problematic issue for moderators.

IN DECEMBER OF LAST YEAR, the BBC discovered footage on YouTube of individuals replicating Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting at gun ranges. They were only taken down after the platform was made aware of the footage.

Several right-wing media and broadcasters blasted Facebook’s move to ban searches of his name in the United States.

A year ago, the US seized a record $1 billion in Bitcoin. Its worth has increased by threefold:

The US government’s largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrencies has turned out to be a bonanza for taxpayers. In November 2020, tens of thousands of Bitcoin were seized in connection with the unlawful Silk Road bazaar, a dark web site where drugs and other illegal commodities were bought and sold using Bitcoin.

For bureaucratic reasons, Bitcoin is still under the government’s control. As a result, what was previously valued at $1 billion is now valued at roughly $3 billion. However, Uncle Sam has done very well with Bitcoin sitting above $55,000, up from around $18,000 in November 2020.

A spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service informed NBC News that the government would auction off the bitcoins. The proceeds from such auctions are generally deposited in the Treasury Forfeiture Support or the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund, used to fund future investigations.

The preponderance of the gov’t’s Bitcoin activities has been much less profitable. In truth, it is primarily a tale of missed possibilities. Since 2014, the US Marshals Service claims to have sold 187,381 Bitcoin in nine auctions. They projected the total take to be over $179 million by NBC News based on the price of Bitcoin on the day of each sale.

Those coins are now worth more than $10 billion, representing a 56-fold gain in value. Back then, to sell Bitcoin, a digital currency built with blockchain technology and held in so-called digital wallets. Sharon Cohen Levin, who led the Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for two decades, the government was concerned there would be no buyers.

“It was insanely tough to figure out how to accomplish it,” she said. In retrospect, simply holding the Bitcoin would have made a fortune, but the government isn’t in the business of hoarding digital currencies for financial objectives, for better or worse.

Silk Road was a criminal bazaar on the dark web to trade anonymously. Ross Ulbricht, the company’s creator, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 after being found guilty of money laundering and narcotics trafficking. Last year, the IRS seized $1 billion after using software company Chainalysis to uncover 54 previously unreported Bitcoin transactions carried out by Silk Road, according to the IRS.

According to court documents, the monies were linked to a Bitcoin address controlled by an anonymous person accused of hacking into Silk Road and stealing the money. On November 3, 2020, police enforcement seized several thousand Bitcoins as part of the investigation into the attack. The confiscated Bitcoin was worth over $1 billion on November 4, 2020.

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