POSTS BY Jacob Mchangama

In Search for an Antidote

In early January 2020, the Chinese doctor Li Wenliang became the first victim of what would soon become a global censorship pandemic. After warning colleagues about a mysterious SARS-like disease in an online chat room, Dr. Li and seven other doctors were arrested for spreading “false rumors.” Li had to sign an agreement warning of consequences if he continued his “illegal activities.” By 31 December 2019, the government forced social media platforms like YY and WeChat to censor content related to the coronavirus, Dr. Li and the government’s handling of the outbreak. Next, the regime cracked down on journalists, commentators and foreign correspondents covering the crisis. On 7 February 2020, Dr. Li died of the coronavirus. There can be little doubt that COVID-related misinformation can cause harm and panic. But censorship is a bad medicine that may well worsen rather than cure the infection of distrust and conspiracy theories.

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