Twitter has deactivated a total of 2,160 accounts tied to Chinese regional and state propaganda campaigns, according to the social network’s most recent data release on misinformation campaigns.
The accounts were attempting to push back against allegations of human rights abuses by the Chinese government against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.
Alongside it, Twitter has also detailed a campaign it discovered in Tanzania, which used copyright complaints to harass members and supporters of the FichuaTanzania human rights group.
Twitter says 2,048 of the accounts “amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives related to the treatment of the Uyghur population,” while a further 112 were connected to a private company backed by the regional government. But according to analysis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), one of the three research partners with which Twitter shared information, much of the propaganda was “embarrassingly” produced.
🚨 NEW REPORT 🚨
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.
📕 Read here: https://t.co/MmS3ybuj6B
— ASPI Cyber Policy (@ASPI_ICPC) December 2, 2021
According to research from the thinktank reported by The Guardian, each network put out over 30,000 tweets, often disputing evidence of human rights abuses, as well as attempting to push the Chinese government’s version of events. But despite the seriousness of the abuses, much of the data analyzed from the campaign was linked to pornography, Korean soap opera content, and spam accounts, likely because the network had taken over and reused existing accounts. Hundreds of the tweets were linked to an account with the handle @fuck_next, while others tried and failed to tag former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
- RELATED: Jack Dorsey steps down as Twitter CEO
- RELATED: Twitter’s AMP links no longer open iOS and Android
Most of the accounts had a small number of followers or none at all, and the overwhelming majority of their tweets had seen zero engagement. The exception was when Chinese officials retweeted them, introducing them to a much broader audience. It’s content that’s unlikely to win over new supporters but is “propaganda appealing to the base,” ASPI researcher Albert Zhang tells newsmen.
In contrast, the operation linked to Tanzania appears to have been much more sophisticated, although it involved a comparatively smaller number of 268 accounts. In a Twitter thread, a Stanford Internet Observatory researcher who worked on the report, Shelby Grossman, explained that the pro-government network would take anti-government content posted by activists, republish it on an external website with a date that predated the tweet, and then report the tweet to Twitter on copyright grounds to have it removed.
2/ A pro-Tanzanian government network adversarially leveraged copyright reporting to harass activists. The scheme was fascinating. Stylized scheme below: pic.twitter.com/zEo5MttjQK
— Shelby Grossman (@shelbygrossman) December 2, 2021
“The tactic sometimes worked,” Grossman writes, “Twitter suspended 2 activist accounts, though both were ultimately reinstated.” But it’s a difficult situation for the activists to end up in, since countering the copyright complaint might compromise the source of the anti-government material.
The treatment of Xinjiang’s Uyghur population has been referred to as a “genocide” and is said to include mass internments, reeducation, forced labor, and even sterilization. Twitter has publicly clashed with Chinese authorities about the human rights abuses before and, in January this year, locked its US embassy’s Twitter account for referring to Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention. As of this writing, the account appears to still be locked and has not been tweeted since January 9th.
As well as these China and Tanzania-linked operations, Twitter says it’s removed accounts related to misinformation campaigns from Mexico, Russia, Uganda, and Venezuela.
Djokovic wins visa case in Australia, judge authorizes his release
Dayo ‘Wonder Boy’ Kujore, a legendary Juju singer, passes away.
EFCC re-arrests Mompha for alleged N32.9 billion fraud
AFCON: There was no fighting in Nigeria’s camp – Super Eagles
Suu Kyi of Myanmar faces new charges and prison sentence
Full list of 2022 Golden Globe Awards winners
Dogecoin creator criticizes Mozilla for halting crypto donations
Kaffy speaks about her divorce from husband Joseph Ameh
NSCDC arrests four suspects during robbery in Kwara community
Buhari’s adviser vows he will not support Tinubu’s presidential bid
APC announces February 26 for national convention
Judge tells DSS to allow Nnamdi Kanu change his clothes
Instagram celebrity, Mompha granted N200m bail by court
Nigeria’s inflation rate increses to 15.6%
D’banj, Simi and Obi Asika unveiled as judges for Nigerian Idol
Court postpones Nnamdi Kanu’s case till Wednesday
News4 days ago
Tinubu donates N50 million to victims of the Zamfara attacks
News4 days ago
Arik Air debunks Uche Elendu claims that its plane crash-landed
News4 days ago
Prince Andrew of UK stripped of military roles, use of HRH title
News4 days ago
EFCC arrests fake Army general who said Buhari chose him as COAS
News4 days ago
Kanu urges his supporters to be civil during his next court appearance
Entertainment1 day ago
DJ Cuppy says Dangote is the richest black man, not Kanye West
Politics5 days ago
Dele Momodu proclaims his candidacy for the presidency in 2023.
Entertainment3 days ago
Veteran singer Dayo Kujore burial date revealed