"An attempt to flood social media platforms with spam in order to drown out
coverage of the lockdown protests in China was probably backed by the Chinese
government, according to analysis by a US cybersecurity firm.
Recorded Future found that networks of coordinated bot accounts were targeting
non-Chinese social media platforms to crowd out genuine posts about the
demonstrations with spam content and by hijacking hashtags of names of Chinese
cities. It said China’s government was most likely to be behind the tactic.
Charity Wright, a senior analyst at Recorded Future, said: “These spambot
networks are resilient, well-resourced and agile. The rate at which they are
posting content and spinning up new accounts tells us that they have automation
tools to flood the information space. Very few influence operations are capable
of this level of activity.”
“We believe it is likely that this was a large-scale operation either sponsored
by the Chinese government or outsourced by the state to a surrogate like a
well-resourced troll farm,” she added.
The analysis follows evidence last week that Twitter was being bombarded with
nuisance posts, many of them adverts for escorts, in an attempt to obscure news
of the anti-lockdown protests in China. Alex Stamos, director at the Stanford
Internet Observatory, said the Chinese activity indicated the “first major
failure” to stop government interference on the platform under Elon Musk’s
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics