Twitter on Friday said that it has suspends more than 23,000 thousands Chinese backed accounts for spreading misinformation on Hong Kong protest, Covid-19 etc.
Though Twitter, Google, Facebook and nearly all major Western platforms completely banned in People’s Republic of China but CPC (Communist Party of China) always use these platforms to spread their propaganda and misinformation in the world regarding CPC.
“The disruption caused by Covid-19 has created a permissive environment for the CCP to experiment with overt manipulation of global social media audiences on Western platforms. There’s much to suggest that the CCP’s propaganda apparatus has been watching the tactics and impact of Russian disinformation,” The Australian Strategic Policy Institute mention.
Tweets were topically divided among four main groups: the Hong Kong protests; COVID-19; exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui; and Taiwan.
“Our analysis includes a dataset of 23,750 Twitter accounts and 348,608 tweets that occurred from January 2018 to 17 April 2020. Twitter has attributed this dataset to Chinese state-linked actors and has recently taken the accounts contained within it offline.”
“The core 23,750 accounts we are publishing to the archive were largely caught early and failed to achieve considerable traction on the service, typically holding low follower accounts and low engagement. Of the approximately 150,000 amplifier accounts, the majority had little to no follower counts either and were strategically designed to artificially inflate impression metrics and engage with the core accounts,”
“In general, this entire network was involved in a range of manipulative and coordinated activities. They were Tweeting predominantly in Chinese languages and spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong,” Twitter said in a blogspot.
This analysis used a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative analysis of bulk Twitter data with qualitative analysis of tweet content. This was combined with independently identified Facebook accounts, pages and activity including identical or highly similar content to that on Twitter. We assess that this Facebook activity, while not definitively attributed by Facebook itself, is highly likely to be a part of the same operation.
The dataset for quantitative analysis was the tweets from a subset of accounts identified by Twitter as being interlinked and associated through a combination of technical signals to which Twitter has access. Accounts that appeared to be repurposed from originally legitimate users are not included in this dataset, which may potentially skew some analysis.
This dataset consisted of:
- Account information for 23,750 accounts that Twitter suspended from its service
- 348,608 tweets from January 2018 to 17 April 2020
- 60,486 pieces of associated media, consisting of 55,750 images and 4,736 videos.
To deflect attention from its early mishandling of a health and economic crisis that has now gone global, the CCP has unashamedly launched waves of disinformation and influence operations intermingled with diplomatic messaging. There are prominent and consistent themes across the messaging of People’s Republic of China (PRC) diplomats and state media: that the CCP’s model of social governance is one that can successfully manage crises, that the PRC’s economy is rapidly recovering from the period of lockdown, and that the PRC is a generous global citizen that can rapidly mobilise medical support and guide the world through the pandemic.
This is not the first time when Twitter suspends Chinese backed accounts for engaging in manipulative activities, the same state actor responsible for the approximately 200,000 accounts suspended in August 2019.