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Xinjiang: Twitter closes thousands of China state-linked accounts spreading propaganda

05 Dec 2021 By theguardian

Xinjiang: Twitter closes thousands of China state-linked accounts spreading propaganda

The operations used photos and images, shell and potentially automated accounts, and fake Uyghur profiles, to disseminate state propaganda and fake testimonials about their happy lives in the region, seeking to dispel evidence of a years-long campaign of oppression, with mass internments, re-education programs, and allegations of forced labour and sterilisation.

The networks were found to share themes and content, but often used repurposed accounts dedicated to pornography or Korean soap operas with little engagement except when they were amplified by Chinese diplomats and officials. Twitter is banned inside China but officials frequently operate accounts overseas.

The tweets also repeatedly mis-tagged the account of former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and many videos linked to the now-suspended Changyu Culture YouTube channel, which is known to be a marketing outfit backed by the Xinjiang provincial authorities.

The result was a torrent of highly implausible propaganda, obvious to most eyes but still a cause for concern, said ASPI.

ASPI found 97% of the identified accounts had fewer than five followers, and 73% of accounts had zero. While 98% of tweets had no likes or retweets, the remainder were often boosted by Chinese diplomats and officials, spreading the content and giving it legitimacy.

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