Chinese leaders are boosting their twitter support with an army of bot accounts, according to The Associated Press.
Much of the online support for Xiaoming and other Chinese officials has come from fake accounts, according to an investigation conducted by The Associated Press and Oxford Internet Institute . Over 10% of the retweets that 189 Chinese officials had from June through January came from suspended accounts, according to The AP.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s representative on Korean Peninsula Affairs, made a Twitter account in October of 2019, even though the platform is banned in China, according to The AP. (RELATED: REPORT: Twitter Locks China’s US Embassy Out Of Twitter After Post Touting Birth Rate Decline Among Uighurs)
Xiaoming boasts over 119,000 Twitter followers and he garnered more than 43,000 retweets from June through February. However, more than half of these retweets came from users that had been suspended for violating Twitter’s rules, according to The AP.
The bots are intended to manipulate Twitter’s algorithm which shows popular posts to more users. The support from fake accounts would cause Chinese propaganda to be distributed more widely, according to The AP.
It is a great honour to be appointed the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on the Korean Peninsula Affairs. ???????? https://t.co/JrHMhNwv90
— 刘晓明Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) April 12, 2021
More fake accounts were created and continued to boost Chinese government content before they were suspended in late April and early May of this year, according to The AP.
“You have a seismic, slow but large continental shift in narratives,” said Timothy Graham, a professor at Queensland University of Technology, according to The AP. “Steer it just a little bit over time, it can have a massive impact.”