China’s “Twitter” appears to be censoring content about food shortages in Shanghai as residents struggle amid a tough COVID-19 lockdown

Many Shanghai residents are struggling to source groceries amid the city’s COVID-19 lockdown.VCG/VCG via Getty Images

  • Weibo users used the hashtag “grocery shopping in Shanghai” to express their frustration with grocery shopping.

  • As of Friday, users on the Twitter-like platform were no longer able to search for posts related to the hashtag.

  • Authorities in China have cracked down on “misleading” online posts about Shanghai’s COVID-19 lockdown.

As residents of the lockdown city of Shanghai struggle to get groceries, China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform appears to have censored content linked to the city’s food crisis.

Searches for the popular hashtag “buy groceries in Shanghai” were blocked, with users receiving a message that “no results were found” when trying to do so.

It’s unclear when the search blocking began, but a user’s Weibo post about it last Friday garnered more than 133,000 likes and 34,000 reposts.

“Good news! ‘Shanghai grocery shopping’ issue has been completely resolved,” the user wrote, alongside a screenshot of a “No Results” search page.

Below, thousands of users left what appeared to be sarcastic comments about the Chinese government’s “speed” and “efficiency” in dealing with issues. “Well done China, there really isn’t anything we can’t solve,” wrote one user.

Weibo didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Shanghai, a financial hub of 26 million people, has been placed under a strict and indefinite lockdown amid a wave of COVID-19 cases. With restrictions prohibiting residents from leaving their homes to buy essentials, people across the city have said they are running out of groceries.

The “Shanghai Grocery Shopping” hashtag was a popular way for users to share food security tips or share ideas on how to extend the life of their groceries.

Users also added the hashtag to their Weibo posts, complaining about the difficulties they faced ordering groceries amid reports of people waking up in the early hours to secure supermarket delivery times.

Despite the hashtag’s removal, other similar hashtags such as “Scrambling for Food in Shanghai” and “The Fear of Securing Food in Shanghai” appear to still be working as of Monday. Residents have also set up support groups on messaging app WeChat so they can place bulk orders to secure groceries.

China has cracked down on what authorities have described as “misleading” online information about how Shanghai is handling the lockdown.

On Friday, city officials refuted rumors that authorities would limit group grocery shopping. They also noted that they were working with the police to uncover the parties responsible for the dissemination of such information.

Two weeks ago, social media giant Tencent, which owns WeChat, reportedly removed two trending videos that appeared to show residents of a housing development in Shanghai protesting the city’s handling of the lockdown, according to Bloomberg.

Chinese health officials stand by what they call a “dynamic” “zero Covid” policy, which involves rapid lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions as cases spike.

According to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, the city reported 25,173 asymptomatic Covid cases and 914 symptomatic cases as of Sunday.

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