China runs co-ordinated fake diplomatic Twitter influence campaign

Occurred: May 2021

A seven-month investigation by the Associated Press and Oxford Internet Institute discovered that Beijing ran an army of fake accounts retweeting and reposting Chinese diplomats and state media in order to amplify government propaganda.

The accounts, which impersonated users from the UK, Australia and other countries, were often nearly identical, created in batches, showed strong signs of coordination, and failed to disclose the fact that the content was government-sponsored. 

The findings were seen to confirm Beijing's move onto Western social media platforms as part of a broader effort to shape global public opinion. The investigation found that much of the support that Chinese diplomats, such as Liu Xiaoming, the former ambassador to the UK, appear to enjoy on Twitter had been manufactured.

The Chinese Embassy in London did not deny the campaign's existence when asked about it.

System 🤖

Operator: Government of China
Developer: Meta/Facebook; Twitter
Country: Global
Sector: Politics
Purpose: Increase influence
Technology: Bot/intelligent agent; Social media
Issue: Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: December 2021