Disinfo Lab: The Great Fake Wall of China - Deception Through Hired Social Media Mercenaries

fake news disinformation disinfo lab

Widespread protests against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are going on across various major cities in China for the past few months, Disinfo Lab reported.

The country’s prolonged & strict lockdown rules under the CCP’s zero-COVID policy have become a source of discontentment for the citizens who are locked in their homes. And the recent unfortunate fire incident in Ürümqi, Xinjiang that took many lives, triggered nationwide protests as people took to the streets to show their agony.

Upon looking for the news about the protests in China on social media, the search results did not show the actual updates. But what was found was a plethora of spam posts related to gambling, e-gaming, dating sites, and adult content.

In the wake of such developments, a network of accounts on social media was found to be lurking to suppress the sequence of events. Chinese-language accounts in large numbers were found to be covering up the anti-establishment protests in China through a massive scale of spamming operations.

Institutions and journalists have now started identifying such spam networks that operate to avert the leakage of anti-China information beyond the borders. However, it’s no new phenomenon. However, these spam networks working for China have now been existing for years and have been under our observation.

These spam networks are a part of Chinese operations on social media. They are primarily created for polishing China’s global image as according to them, the western world is denting China’s image as human rights violator. Hence, their day-to-day chore is to spam social media with pictures of Chinese food and sceneries in large numbers, only to push pro-China and political posts promoting & protecting China’s interests.

Another motive of this network is to grow each other in the ploy of running bigger social media campaigns in the future. These accounts seem to be working disjointly; in isolation to show that they are not connected. However, our findings showed that they have been associated with the same network and share common followers.

While the Chinese disinformation industry is mainly focused on presenting a positive image of the Middle Kingdom, they also indulge in targeting other countries when needed. The targets range from the US to India. In this endeavor, particularly against India, China finds Pakistan a willing partner.

These two nations have common interests and even have a border dispute with India. While Pakistan and India have a territorial conflict over Kashmir, the Sino-Indian territorial dispute lies in the Himalayan region.

Such conflicts don’t just unfold on borders with military intervention, but social media becomes a useful tool in the demonstration of disinformation propaganda. It was observed that Chinese propaganda once planted on social media was taken up by Pakistani social media over the skirmish that took place between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley in 2020.

The Chinese operations on social media are never-ending and, in our effort, we have been able to dissect a few of such networks that are run for/ on behalf of China to control the narrative in the favour of China.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor