In a bid to hunt down novel coronavirus critics, China is making use of Twitter and WeChat to track down people who share information what officials consider as "negative information" about the deadly outbreak.
People who have shared information about the virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan describe relatively tame social media interactions that nonetheless resulted in both direct and indirect responses from the Chinese government, the Vice reported on Monday.
The outbreak of novel coronavirus has become a subject of disagreement in China, also giving way to online protests like the one following the death of whistleblower Li Wenliang racking up angry reactions that are then swiftly taken down.
The hashtag "I want freedom of speech" spread on the Chinese social media site Weibo in the hours after Li's death, racking up two million posts that were removed by the following day, The Verge reported quoting NPR.
According to reports, a man based in the country said that officials visited him at his home in the industrial city of Dongguan after he responded to a tweet that was critical of how the Chinese officials handled the spread of coronavirus.
The officials told him that his tweet was an attack on the Chinese government. His phone was confiscated, and he was forced to sign a statement saying he would not repeat the so-called threat, the Vice report added.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak has handed a blow to the tech industry. The MWC 2020 in Barcelona had to be cancelled after the outbreak spread.
The coronavirus death toll in mainland China has increased to 2,663 with 77,658 confirmed cases, health authorities said on Tuesday.
The National Health Commission said that it received reports of 508 new cases and 71 deaths on Monday from 31 provincial-level regions on the mainland.