Viral texts about coronavirus lockdown were amplified by Chinese operatives, US officials say

The White House Holds Daily Briefing On Coronavirus Pandemic Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Chinese operatives helped amplify a viral text message that falsely claimed President Trump was going to instate a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, reports The New York Times. US officials said the operatives were engaging in disinformation tactics similar to the ones Russia used in 2016.

The rumor, which gained traction around mid-March, claimed to be coming from someone close to the White House. It said Trump was doing to lock down the country to stop the spread of COVID-19. “Please be advised,” one version of the text message began. “Within 48 to 72 hours the President will evoke what is called the Stafford Act. Stock up on whatever you guys need to make sure you have a two week supply of everything. Please forward to your…

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