Twitter Suspends Hundreds of Bots Posting Chinese Olympic Propaganda

  • A recent investigation found 3,000 Twitter accounts that appeared to be posting Chinese Olympic propaganda.
  • Twitter has suspended hundreds of the bots listed in the report, a spokesperson told Insider.
  • The accounts violated policies prohibiting coordinated attempts to “artificially influence conversations.”

Twitter removed hundreds of fake accounts and bots included in a recent New York Times and ProPublica investigation into Chinese Olympic propaganda, a company spokesperson confirmed with Insider.

The investigation found 3,000 “inauthentic-looking Twitter accounts that appeared to be coordinating to promote the Olympics by sharing state media posts with identical comments,” many of which depicted a rosy vision of the Games that glossed over controversies involving human rights abuses in China, the outlets reported on Friday.

A Twitter spokesperson told Insider that hundreds of accounts included in the investigation’s findings were suspended for violating the “platform manipulation and spam policy,” which prohibits “coordinated activity that attempts to artificially influence conversations through the use of multiple accounts, fake accounts and automation.”

“If we have clear evidence of state-backed information operations, our first priority is to enforce our rules and remove accounts engaging in this behavior,” the spokesperson said. “When our investigations are complete, we disclose all accounts and content in our information operations archive.”

Spicy Panda, one of the only reported accounts that remains active on Twitter, pushed back on the boycott of the Beijing Olympics in a February 9 post.

“No matter how hard Uncle Liar wields his deceiving propaganda weapon to stain the Olympics, he can not stop the world’s enthusiasm toward #BeijingWinterOlympics,” the cartoon’s caption says.

Almost 300 “fake-looking accounts” reposted the cartoon, which received only 11 likes and two retweets, the New York Times reported. Irregular engagement like this is a “strong indicator” of inauthentic network mobilization, according to the report.

#BoycottBeijing2022, a hashtag for the movement referenced in the illustration, has been used around the world to protest China’s human rights violations including the detention and genocide of Uyghur Muslims.

In December, Twitter announced it removed a network of 2,048 accounts “that amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives related to the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.”

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