Propaganda and misinformation pollute social networks

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On Friday 12 June 2020, The Guardian reports that Twitter has deleted more than 170,000 accounts on its platform that appear to be linked to a campaign of Chinese influence. The accounts in question mainly published tweets on the demonstrations in Hong Kong, the United States and on the coronavirus.

A CAMPAIGN TARGETING SINOPHONES

Apparently, Twitter shut down 23,750 master accounts and 150,000 “booster” accounts that were boosting the content published by the master accounts, according to the platform’s announcement on Thursday, June 11.

According to researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), although China has blocked Twitter on its territory, the campaign would target Chinese-speaking users in other countries “with the intention of influencing perceptions on key issues, including the Hong Kong protests, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and, to a lesser extent, Covid-19 and Taiwan. »

VERY ACTIVE ACCOUNTS

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers analyzed 348,608 tweets published between January 2018 and April 2020, and found that most of this content was published during working hours in Beijing from Monday to Friday, and fell at weekends. In addition, the tweets contained images with text in Chinese and, according to ASPI researchers, the accounts were primarily intended to target people living in Hong Kong and the Chinese diaspora.

Although the majority of accounts had almost no followers, 156 of their tweets received more than 50 likes and 26 tweets were retweeted 10 times. In addition, the researchers noted that some were former official accounts that had been hacked or purchased for use in the campaign.

Credit: Yucel Moran

CHARGES AGAINST THE UNITED STATES

The campaign accounts placed particular emphasis on the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, accusing the United States of being hypocritical about “its criticism of the police response in Hong Kong while US police and troops use violence against demonstrations in the United States. They also warn “Hong Kong demonstrators not to think they can count on the United States for support against China’s national interests.

Researchers say that despite the deletion of these accounts, campaigns persist on Twitter and Facebook with new accounts reassigned and new accounts created.

Source : The Guardian

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