Science, Technology, and Social Media

Twitter, Facebook Take Down Thousands Of Chinese Accounts Linked To Propaganda Campaigns

Twitter and Facebook each removed thousands of accounts linked to Chinese state-backed propaganda campaigns, according to the platforms’ reports Wednesday and Thursday.

Twitter announced in a blog post early Thursday that it removed thousands of accounts spreading state propaganda, the majority of which were linked to a Chinese campaign aimed at downplaying the Chinese government’s role in the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

“We removed a network of accounts that amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives related to the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang,” Twitter’s safety team wrote.

Twitter also released a data set containing information on 2,048 accounts to be studied by outside researchers.

“Narratives included that Uyghurs are treated well in Xinjiang, that Xinjiang policy is necessary to combat terrorism, and that Western media and politicians are lying or hypocritical about human rights abuses in China,” the Stanford Internet Observatory, a research center that worked with Twitter to analyze the accounts, wrote in a report on the matter.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, issued a threat report late Wednesday claiming to have taken down 524 Facebook accounts, 20 Pages, four Groups and 86 Instagram accounts linked to China.

“We began looking into this activity after reviewing public reporting about the single fake account at the center of this operation,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post announcing the report. “Our investigation found links to individuals in mainland China, including employees of Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co, Ltd, an information security firm, and individuals associated with Chinese state infrastructure companies located around the world.”

The company began investigating the network after they were alerted to an account posting as Swiss biologist named “Wilson Edwards,” who does not exist, saying that U.S. officials were intimidating World Health Organizations scientists to attribute COVID-19 to China.

“This campaign was a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single fake persona,” Ben Nimmo, a Meta threat intelligence lead, wrote in the report.

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