Twitter has eliminated over 23,700 China-backed accounts spreading disinformation on its stage regarding the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and COVID-19, the societal networking giant announced on Friday.
In total, Twitter has eliminated 32,242 state-backed accounts, with over two-third — 23,750 — credited to Beijing.
“They have been tweeting predominantly in languages and dispersing geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP) while continuing to induce deceptive narratives concerning the political dynamics in Hong Kong,” the firm stated in a statement.
Twitter stated it also closed down 150,000 amplifier accounts” made to enhance this information”.
Content in the 23,750 accounts deleted was archived and shared with investigators in Australia’s International Cyber Centre (ASPI) and the Stanford Internet Observatory.
Both noticed that the almost 350,000 tweets emitted from such accounts were divided into four major categories: the Hong Kong protests; COVID-19; exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui; and Taiwan.
They also emphasized that although nearly all the accounts were made only weeks before they began crying in late January, a few were established as early as September 2019 and had stayed dormant until they began discussing COVID-19.
“Narratives about COVID-19 mostly praise China’s reaction to the virus, also sometimes contrast China’s answer against the US authorities or Taiwan’s answer, or utilize the existence of the virus as a way to attack Hong Kong activists,” they wrote in a report.
Based on ASPI, the tweets were”mapped cleanly to working hours per Beijing Times” with spikes in submitting detected through 8 am-5 pm Monday to Friday and drop-offs found in evenings.
“Such a regimented posting blueprint certainly indicates hydration and inauthenticity,” their report said.
Audiences in Hong Kong and also the wider Chinese diaspora were the key targets of these tweets, ASPI stated, as western Western media programs such as Twitter and Facebook are prohibited in southern China.
On the other hand, the reports were unsophisticated, and many — 78.5percent — had some followers but ASPI supposes the disinformation operation additionally utilized obsolete accounts and sought to use them”as the mechanism where the effort could get traction from high-follower networks”.
“The huge scale pivot to Western platforms is comparatively fresh, and we ought to anticipate continued growth and improvement, provided the huge resourcing the Chinese party-state can bring to bear in simplifying country messaging across its diplomacy, state media and covert influence operations, and” it stated.
Another state-backed account eliminated from Twitter originated from Turkey and Russia.