- Twitter disclosed three major state-backed networks pushing propaganda for China, Russia, and Turkey.
- The Chinese network was by far the largest, comprising some 170,000 accounts.
- Twitter found a “core” network of 23,750 accounts tweeting pro-government material, and this was in turn spread by 150,000 “amplifier” accounts.
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Twitter has identified three new major state-backed disinformation networks, the social media company announced in a blog post on Thursday.
The networks, which have now been placed in Twitter’s archive, appeared to be state-run operations from China, Russia, and Turkey.
All three networks were used to spread messages favourable to their respective governments, and in Russia’s case to attack political dissidents.
The Chinese state-backed network was by far the largest of the three. Twitter disclosed 1,152 and 7,340 accounts for Russia and Turkey respectively, and 23,750 for China.
These 23,750 accounts only make up what Twitter calls the “core” of the state-backed operation, writing tweets to be disseminated. These were in turn picked up by some 150,000 “amplifier” accounts.
“Of the approximately 150,000 amplifier accounts, the majority had little to no follower counts either and were strategically designed to artificially inflate impression metrics and engage with the core accounts,” Twitter said. Twitter did not disclose all the 150,000 amplifier accounts on the advice of researchers.
This vast network tweeted predominantly in Chinese languages and was “spreading geopolitical narratives favourable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.”
Pro-democracy protests regained traction in Hong Kong in May after Beijing brought in sweeping new legislation to reduce the region’s autonomy. Some saw this as a retaliation to the six months of protests which took place in the first half of 2019 in reaction to an extradition bill.
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