Huawei 5G Twitter deepfake influence campaign

Occurred: January 2021

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Social media research company Graphika has published a report (pdf) that exposes an opaque, coordinated online campaign to attack the Belgian government's plan to ban Huawei from supplying 5G equipment to the country.

The campaign consisted of 14 Twitter accounts, each of which used a fake name and a fake profile image that had been generated using deepfake technology. Each profile posed as Belgium-based technology and 5G experts and pushed articles critical of the Belgian government. 

According to the report, the accounts spent their time retweeting content from popular accounts and mixing it with their own tweets, alongside tweets praising Huawei as a reliable investor and business partner. 

In addition, Huawei officials, including Kevin Liu, Huawei president for public affairs and communications in Western Europe, regularly shared anti-Belgium government tweets and content regularly.

Operator: Huawei
Developer: Huawei
Country: Belgium
Sector: Govt - telecoms
Purpose: Influence goverment decision-making
Technology: Deepfake - image; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning; Bot/intelligent agent
Issue: Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2021