søndag 16. mai 2021

How an army of fake Twitter accounts are driving Chinese propaganda

As China parlays its growing economic power into political influence, the nation has sought to win the information war both at home and abroad. Chinese Communist Party officials have marched into a new battleground in its ambitious war to shape global public opinion: Western social media. While banned inside China, the country's so-called Wolf Warrior diplomats have taken to Twitter with gusto, touting Chinese achievements, chiding other countries, posting offensive cartoons, and delivering bombastic pro-China pronouncements.

In one highly publicised episode, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson tweeted a fake image of an Australian soldier committing war crimes – prompting an immediate demand for an apology by prime minister Scott Morrison. However the apparent salience of these posts is fuelled by fake accounts, and efforts by big tech to crack down on bogus Chinese 'imposter accounts' have been futile, new research shows. A seven-month investigation by the Associated Press and the Oxford University's Internet Institute found China’s rise on Twitter has been powered by an army of fake accounts that have retweeted Chinese diplomats and state media tens of thousands of times, often providing a bulk of the amplification.