IO Network: Hundreds of Fake Social Media Accounts Found Spreading support for China, anti-Western content

A new study reports that A network of more than 350 fake social media accounts is promoting content that supports China. and trying to undermine the credibility of those seen as enemies of the Chinese government.

The Center for Information Resilience (CIR) report states that the goal of this network is the unrighteousness of the West and promote China’s influence and image abroad.

A study report released to the BBC found that a network of fake account users helped to send multiple images of cartoons. One picture shows Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire who has often criticized China.

Some of the most talked about personalities that appear in cartoons include scientist Yan Limeng. “Explosionists” and Steve Bannon, former political strategist for Donald Trump.

These people were all accused of disseminate inaccurate information including fake information about COVID-19

The caricatures of Bannon, Yan Limeng, and Kuo Wengui (from left to right) were caricatures of the cartoon.

BBC cartoons that are shared are caricatures of Bannon, Yan Limeng and Kuo Wengui (from left to right).

Some accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube use fake profile pictures created by artificial intelligence, while others appear to have been stolen. Because it was posted in other languages ​​before that.

There is currently no evidence that the network has any ties to the Chinese government, but CIR, a non-profit group working on anti-information, says it’s not. The network is similar to the Chinese support network previously deleted by Twitter and Facebook.

Similar to Chinese representatives and official media, these networks will forward messages supporting the Chinese government.

A large amount of content that the network forwards. Focus on the United States especially on divisive issues such as gun laws and racial politics.

One of the content that the network forwarded said the United States had a poor human rights record. Posts from the fake accounts cited the murder of George Floyd as one of several examples. including discrimination against Asians

A Twitter message states that "Nearly 2,000 people will die from gun violence in the United States by 2020."

BBCThis account has been suspended from Twitter for violating the rules.

Some accounts have denied human rights violations in the Xinjiang region. which experts say China has reluctantly detained at least 1 million Muslims. These accounts have referred to the allegations as “The lies that the United States and the western world created it.”

“The aim of this network appears to be to undermine the legitimacy of the West by distributing content that supports China,” said CIR report author Benjamin Strig.

There are many similarities between this network and the propaganda network. The “Spamouflage Dragon” detected by social analytics firm Graphika.

Ira Hubert, Senior Investigative Analyst at Graphics Commenting on the new study, there was no “honey moon” during the first months of the US government. under the leadership of Joe Biden

“The network has published anti-US content. For example, saying the United States was ‘defeated’ in the days before the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. and labeled the US as India’s worst ally. Because of the insufficient assistance provided during India’s months of intense battle against the coronavirus.”

How was this network discovered?

The CIR has been tracking hashtags previously detected by other networks that have been used by other networks, finding user accounts that have signaled that they are part of an incentive operation.

There are several indications, including multiple postings of propaganda material. and using the same hashtags, multiple newly created accounts Accounts that appear to have been randomly generated usernames and accounts with low followers are obvious signs.

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Some profiles are created to post content for the first time. while other accounts will come forward, like and comment on those first posts. To help spread to a wider audience.

This type of activity is often referred to as “astroturfing” (astroturfing), which literally means artificial grass laying Here it means making people understand that there are many people at the grassroots level to support.

The graphics show different points in the network.

Benjamin Strick / CIRThis study sheds light on how accounts help broadcast one another. Each point is one Twitter account.

fake person

Many fake profiles use AI-generated portraits. This is a relatively new phenomenon that uses computers to create realistic images of people. But not that person actually existed. This is different from stealing images of real people to use them. An AI-generated image that comes from a machine learning method called StyleGAN cannot be traced using a reverse image search.

The use of fake profile pictures in fraudulent information operations is becoming more common. Because users and various channels are more careful with suspicious accounts.

CIR uses several techniques to detect fake profile pictures in the network. The created image usually places the eyes in the same position. So putting these pictures together may help detect fake profile pictures.

Usually, these random profile detections include various eye arrangements and image cropping.

The image of a person with the same level of eyes

Benjamin Strick/CIRThe network uses images of non-existent people.

Other signs include blurred vision around the hairline. The image of teeth at odd angles and blurry images around the face.

Several Facebook accounts are believed to be part of the network. It seems to use Turkish names. These accounts may have belonged to real people. but later stolen or sold. and a new profile picture has been used.

Many of the stolen accounts also published content in support of the network’s China on YouTube. Many of the accounts previously posted in English or German. And not moving for many years, but suddenly returned to post Chinese content from Chinese state television.

The CIR also published the research on social media outlets, prompting Facebook to remove the accounts it referred to from its systems.

“As of Sept. 2019, we removed a network of spam activities that enticed people to click on politics and lifestyle. mostly in Chinese This network is not affiliated with our platform at all. We continue to collaborate with researchers and other companies in our industry. to detect and block their return attempts. like these accounts mentioned in the report,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

BBC correspondent revealed that he had to leave China because of the official media war Why Sino-Australia relations are deteriorating? The “price to pay” after criticizing the Chinese government

YouTube has terminated a number of accounts in the network for violating the YouTube User Community Guidelines.

Twitter said it had removed most of the accounts it had detected by CIR, as well as other accounts with similar behavior, and said it was investigating the matter.

“When we detect information operations we see as state-related activities. whether by people in the country or abroad We will disclose these operations to our public archives.”

Graphic of anonymous people at computers with a Chinese character on all their screens


BBC Monitoring Chinese media analyst Carrie Allen said billions of dollars have been spent in the past 10 years to support China’s presence in many foreign channels. More and more places have used “wolf warrior diplomacy,” with Chinese officials using Twitter accounts to spread the Communist Party’s message. It gives China the image of being friendly with the rest of the world, not an oppressive and authoritarian nation.

Allen said that with China’s more than 1 billion internet users, China certainly has the capability to operate on social media. It can also attack what China sees as anti-China opinions by blasting out opposing opinions. But with the limited English skills of Chinese people A clear signal that The Chinese “keyboard troll” behind those accounts was the use of an automated English translation program. This gives that type of text a weird grammatical structure and typos.

Graphics by Simon Martin.


BBC Thai news published on the website News Sod is a collaboration of two news organizations.

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