Facebook And Twitter Remove Thousands Of Accounts Linked To Chinese Regional And State Propaganda Campaigns
Last week, Twitter announced that it had taken action against two networks with over 2,000 accounts that tried to disprove allegations of human rights violations in Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Reportedly, these networks pushed Xinjiang-shot videos that attempted to portray the region as prosperous and free.
Thousands of accounts linked to Chinese information campaigns have been banned from Twitter and Facebook. The alleged campaign is the latest proof of Beijing's attempts to mould the global narrative around China.
Last week, Twitter announced that it had taken action against two networks with over 2,000 accounts that tried to disprove allegations of human rights violations in the controversial Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government have detained Muslim minorities, Uyghurs.
While Beijing still denies any allegations related to the Xinjiang region, there are reports and testimonies given by tortured individuals that showed a picture completely different from what the Chinese government claims.
However, as reported recently, these networks pushed Xinjiang-shot videos that attempted to portray the region as prosperous and free.
According to a report released by the Stanford Internet Observatory, a research group focused on the misuse of technology and social media, one of the networks, which Twitter attributed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), coordinated verbal attacks against activists and articles critical of China while bolstering Chinese state media with positive comments and likes.
As per the Stanford investigation, the use of abuse and hashtags showed an effort to recast global discussion or “crowd out critical/adversarial narratives,” despite the fact that many of the more than 30,000 tweets linked to the network had minimal engagement.
Additionally, it was also reported that the networks shared themes and material, although they frequently employed reused accounts, dedicated to pornography or Korean soap operas with little activity except when pushed by Chinese diplomats and officials.
The content from over 2,000 accounts that Twitter shut down was frequently "embarrassingly" generated, according to experts at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), but it provided a level of "implausible deniability" that muddy the waters around the issue.
In a tweet, ASPI Cyber Policy wrote: “In @ASPI_ICPC's report '#StopXinjiangRumors: The CCP’s decentralised disinformation campaign' the authors analyse two Chinese state-linked networks seeking to influence discourse about Xinjiang across Twitter & YouTube.”
Separately, last week, Facebook said in a statement that it had taken down more than 500 accounts after they helped to amplify messages from a fictitious Swiss biologist named "Wilson Edwards" who claimed the United States was interfering with the World Health Organization’s efforts to track the origins of Covid-19. Chinese official media cited the phoney scientist's accusations.
After the so-called biologist’s name became popular on social media, the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing stepped ahead in August this year and released a statement. In a Tweet, the embassy said: “Looking for Wilson Edwards, alleged biologist, cited in press and social media in China over the last several days. If you exist, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is a fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts.”
However, the takedowns by the tech companies are the most recent in a long line of measures to counter Chinese propaganda initiatives. Despite being restricted in Xi Jinping's country, Twitter and Facebook have become key platforms for influencing worldwide perceptions of China.
As reported, in recent years, Chinese diplomats and state media have redoubled their attempts to grow platforms' audiences.
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