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  • Ross Burley

Revealed: coordinated attempt to push pro-China, anti-Western narratives on social media

The Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) today revealed a network of social media accounts that distort international perceptions on significant issues, elevate China’s reputation amongst its supporters, and discredit claims critical of the Chinese Government.

The coordinated influence operation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube uses a mix of artificial and repurposed accounts to push pro-China narratives and distort perceptions on important issues.

The narratives amplified by the accounts are similar to those promoted by Chinese Government officials and China state-linked media.

The full report can be read here:

Analysis of the Pro-China Propaganda Network Targeting International Narratives_FINAL
Download PDF • 8.57MB

The author of the report and CIR’s Director of Investigations, Benjamin Strick, said:

“Our research shows evidence of a deliberate effort to distort international perceptions on significant issues - in this case, in favour of China. The aim of the network appears to be to delegitimize the West by amplifying pro-Chinese narratives. There appears to be close overlaps in narratives shared by the network, to those shared by the social media accounts of China State representatives and state-linked media.

“The network targets significant subjects such as US gun laws, COVID-19, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, overseas conflicts and racial discrimination in an apparent bid to inflame tensions, deny remarks critical of China, and target Western governments. The content was posted in English and Chinese.

“The narratives CIR uncovered in this influence operation have strong similarities to content seen on the accounts of Chinese Government representatives and China state-linked media. However, this is not an indication of attribution.”

Ross Burley, CIR’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, said:

“This influence operation has similar hallmarks to networks that were taken down by social media platforms in the past. It is likely that this operation is a continuation of those past efforts. We urge the platforms mentioned in this report to investigate the network, formally offer attribution and take it down. It’s important those responsible for its existence are exposed.

“The accounts identified in this influence operation on Twitter used a mix of StyleGAN machine-learning generated images as profile pictures and relied on a much larger network of accounts using more authentic appearing images, anime images and repurposed accounts.

“On Facebook and YouTube, many of the accounts also appeared to be repurposed. There was evidence of previous authentic-appearing ownership of the accounts, indicating that at some point there was a change of ownership.”



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