How a fake network pushes pro-China propaganda
Tech & IT desk || shiningbd
A sprawling network of more than 350 fake social media profiles is pushing pro-China narratives and attempting to discredit those seen as opponents of China's government, according to a new study.
The aim is to delegitimise the West and boost China's influence and image overseas, the report by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) suggests.
The study, shared with the BBC, found that the network of fake profiles circulated garish cartoons depicting, among others, exiled Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of China.
Other controversial figures featured in the cartoons included "whistleblower" scientist Li-Meng Yang, and Steve Bannon, former political strategist for Donald Trump.
Each of these individuals has themselves been accused of spreading disinformation, including false information about Covid-19.
Cartoon depicting Steve Bannon as a demon, 'Yan Limeng' with a forked tongue and Guo Wengui with a tail and holding an American flag.
Some of the accounts - spread across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube - use fake AI-generated profile pictures, while others appear to have been hijacked after previously posting in other languages.
There is no concrete evidence that the network is linked to the Chinese government, but according to the CIR, a non-profit group which works to counter disinformation, it resembles pro-China networks previously taken down by Twitter and Facebook.
These networks amplified pro-China narratives similar to those promoted by Chinese state representatives and state media.
Much of the content shared by the network focuses on the US, and in particular on divisive issues like gun laws and race politics.