Just as in the prior bans, which were eventually overturned, so in this case it is unclear what prompted Twitter’s abrupt censorship: the only notification we received from twitter was the following:
It is news to us that this website has (ever) “engaged in the targeted harassment of someone.”
What appears to have happened is that twitter received a complaint from the website best known for publishing the discredited Steele dossier when no other media outlet would touch it, and making cat slideshows of course, Buzzfeed, in which someone called Ryan Broderick writes that Zero Hedge “has released the personal information of a scientist from Wuhan, China, falsely accusing them of creating the coronavirus as a bioweapon, in a plot it said is the real-life version of the video game Resident Evil.”
I’ve reached out to Twitter for clarity on this but it looks like ZeroHedge may have been suspended following my piece about them doxing a Chinese scientist and accusing him of weaponizing the #coronavirus https://t.co/B3XXRCjJpQ pic.twitter.com/RLCR3Eg6q0
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) January 31, 2020
A few points: the article referenced by Buzz Feed, “Is This The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic?”, is as the title implies, a question, and one which considering the huge significance and life or death import of the Coronavirus pandemic, has to be answered, especially since even the establishment’s Foreign Policy magazine writes bat soup, which is widely being cited and circulated by the mainstream press as the cause of the coronavirus breakout, is not the cause of the Wuhan virus. The widely read website Health.com also chimes in: “No, Coronavirus Was Not Caused by ‘Bat Soup‘”. Meanwhile, Business Insider writes “Experts think the Wuhan coronavirus jumped from bats to snakes to people. Bats have been the source of at least 4 pandemics.”
So considering that Peng Zhou, who currently works at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is the Leader of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunization Group at the Institute, the question certainly is a reasonable one and, in a normal world, would demand an answer from the established media (assuming it wasn’t afraid of risking lucrative Chinese funding) instead of leaving it to “fringe” websites.
The impetus to ask the question if the disease originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is especially relevant in light of social media reports such as this one which claims to “have evidence here that the outbreak originated from Wuhan P4 Research Institute. You need to find a truly patriotic journalist to publish it to the public. You can personally trust me to provide a complete chain of evidence. Thank you.”
— 中华一番 (@BD6Fs6zVVAK4z6F) January 30, 2020
So did we have a right to ask the question if there is an alternative version for the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially with hundreds if not thousands of lives at stake? Absolutely.
Meanwhile, those who wonder if Dr. Zhou has any link to the possible emergence of the Coronavirus following years of experimenting with bats, we urge you to read our full article instead of relying on the hearsay of ideologically biased journalists.
Second, and contrary to the claims presented by Buzzfeed, we did not release any “personal information”: Peng Zhou (周鹏) is a public figure, and all the contact information that we presented was pulled from his publicly posted bio found on a website at the Wuhan Institute of Virology which anyone with access to the internet can pull from the following URL: http://sourcedb.whiov.cas.cn/zw/rck/201705/t20170505_4783973.html, which is also the information we used.
So about Buzzfeed’s allegation, which was adopted by Twitter, that somehow we incited “targeted abuse”, here is what we said:
Something tells us, if anyone wants to find out what really caused the coronavirus pandemic that has infected thousands of people in China and around the globe, they should probably pay Dr. Peng a visit.
To which we then added the information obtained from his own bio page on the Institute’s website:
“Or at least start with an email: Dr Peng can be reached at email@example.com, and his phone# is 87197311″
Are we then to understand that we have now reached a point the mere gathering of information, which our colleagues in the media may want to eventually do as thousands of people are afflicted daily by the Coronavirus, is now synonymous with “abuse and harassment”? According to Twitter, and certainly our competitors in the media, the answer is yes.
In any case, we have emailed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who incidentally happens to follow zerohedge…
… for the answer. If we get one, we will promptly share it with our readers. We aren’t holding our breath, however, as we realize how important it is to today’s media giants not to ruffle too many Chinese feathers or lack losing access to the Chinese market. After all, who can forget the following report from the New York Times about another of our media competitors that several years ago was itself engaged in “doxing” us (yet oddly wasn’t suspended by Twitter):
The chairman of Bloomberg L.P. said in a speech here on Thursday that the company should have reconsidered articles that deviated from its core of coverage of business news, because they jeopardized the huge sales potential for its products in the Chinese market.
The comments by the chairman, Peter T. Grauer, represented the starkest acknowledgment yet by a senior Bloomberg executive that the ambitions of the news division should be assessed in the context of the business operation, which provides the bulk of the company’s revenue. They also signaled which of those considerations might get priority.
Acknowledging the vast size of the Chinese economy, the world’s second-biggest after that of the United States, Mr. Grauer, said, “We have to be there.”
“We have about 50 journalists in the market, primarily writing stories about the local business and economic environment,” Mr. Grauer said in response to questions after a speech at the Asia Society. “You’re all aware that every once in a while we wander a little bit away from that and write stories that we probably may have kind of rethought — should have rethought.”
Bloomberg, the financial data and news company, relies on sales of its terminals, which are ubiquitous on bankers’ desks around the world, for about 82 percent of its $8.5 billion in revenue. But sales of those terminals in China declined after the company published an article in June 2012 on the family wealth of Xi Jinping, at that time the incoming Communist Party chief. After its publication, officials ordered state enterprises not to subscribe to the service. Mr. Grauer did not specifically mention the article about Mr. Xi or any other articles.
“Being in China is very much a part of our long-term strategy and will continue to be so going forward,” Mr. Grauer said. “It occupies a lot of our thinking — Dan Doctoroff, our C.E.O.; me; Mike; and other members of our senior team.”
Some current and former Bloomberg journalists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had hoped the controversy surrounding Bloomberg’s China reporting would prompt the company to reaffirm its support for investigative efforts. Mr. Grauer’s comments were met with dismay, particularly because he is regarded as close to Mr. Bloomberg and would be unlikely to voice views that were not broadly accepted at the top of the company.
Unlike Bloomberg, or anyone else in the mainstream media, we don’t plan on “rethinking” any of our articles just to curry favor with the powerful and we certainly will continue our own “investigative efforts”, even if it means we lose some of our inbound traffic.