Huawei found to be running deepfake campaign against Belgian government

Occurred: January 2021

Chinese telecoms company Huawei ran an opaque deepfake campaign to undermine the Belgian government's plan to ban the company from its 5G network.

According (pdf) to social media research company Graphika, Huawei ran 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. 

Per 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. 

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

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

Investigations, assessments, audits 🧐

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2021