ChinaNovember 29 2022, 14:18 pm

Twitter Flooded with Chinese “Nuisance Content” Trying to Stifle Covid Protest News

US media is report­ing that Twit­ter’s great­ly reduced anti-pro­pa­gan­da team was attempt­ing to cope with what is described as “nui­sance con­tent” aimed at drown­ing out news about the unprece­dent­ed anti-Covid protests in Chi­na. Accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post report, Chi­nese lan­guage accounts, some long dor­mant, became active on Sun­day and start­ed spam­ming Twit­ter with links to escort ser­vices and oth­er adult offer­ings along­side city names:

Novem­ber 27, 2022 SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter’s rad­i­cal­ly reduced anti-pro­pa­gan­da team grap­pled on Sun­day with a flood of nui­sance con­tent in Chi­na that researchers said was aimed at reduc­ing the flow of news about stun­ning wide­spread protests against coro­n­avirus restric­tions. Tech is not your friend. We are. Sign up for The Tech Friend newslet­ter. Numer­ous Chi­nese-lan­guage accounts, some dor­mant for months or years, came to life ear­ly Sun­day and start­ed spam­ming the ser­vice with links to escort ser­vices and oth­er adult offer­ings along­side city names. The result: For hours, any­one search­ing for posts from those cities and using the Chi­nese names for the loca­tions would see pages and pages of use­less tweets instead of infor­ma­tion about the dar­ing protests as they esca­lat­ed to include calls for Com­mu­nist Par­ty lead­ers to resign. It is not the first time that sus­pect­ed gov­ern­ment-con­nect­ed accounts have used the tech­nique, accord­ing to a recent­ly depart­ed Twit­ter employ­ee. But in the past, it was used to dis­cred­it a sin­gle account or a small group by nam­ing them in the escort ads. “This is a known prob­lem that our team was deal­ing with man­u­al­ly, aside from automa­tions we put in place,” said the for­mer employ­ee, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid ret­ri­bu­tion for dis­clos­ing inter­nal process­es. In mass lay­offs and res­ig­na­tions, Twitter’s over­all staff has been slashed from about 7,500 to rough­ly 2,000, sur­viv­ing employ­ees esti­mat­ed. Some groups, includ­ing those deal­ing with human rights issues, safe­ty con­cerns and decep­tive for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions, have been reduced to a hand­ful of peo­ple or no staff at all.

Read the rest here.

In Feb­ru­ary, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed pro-Chi­na accounts were flood­ing Twit­ter with mes­sages that includ­ed the hash­tag #Geno­cideGames, in an effort to dilute the hash­tag’s pow­er to gal­va­nize crit­i­cism of the Win­ter Olympics host nation.


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