Chinese fake news flooding social media on eve of US election
Chinese fake propaganda social media accounts appear to be ramping up a campaign of phony videos in an attempt to discredit US President Donald Trump during the election campaign, a new report says.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank, which keeps tabs on suspicious social media activity by Beijing, has uncovered more "inauthentic activity" supporting the political objectives of the Chinese Communist Party, they say.
Many of the fake accounts created on Facebook or YouTube display "highly co-ordinated and possibly automated behaviour to create inauthentic engagement" and make claims such as "the US is the one to blame" for the pandemic.
They've also begun campaigning against Trump and in a bid to "manipulate political discourse" and "inauthentically shape opinions on fundamental democratic questions, including the US 2020 presidential election".
Random Facebook and You Tube accounts attack Trump for supposedly using the "American virus to destroy China", saying "Trump is doing a bad job", "China will win" and sharing videos of recent riots.
The report, Viral videos: COVID-19, China and inauthentic influence on Facebook, says there's "been a very notable uptick in the number of such videos in September 2020".
"The actors appear to be ramping up their experimentation with video formats," author Elise Thomas says.
"Individual accounts also blend content about the US's COVID-19 outbreak with other highly politicised content, for example by sharing videos about how the US's COVID-19 statistics can't be trusted and videos about the protests and ongoing unrest in Portland on the same day.
"These narratives span a range of topics, including assertions of corruption and incompetence in the Trump administration, the US Government's decision to ban TikTok, the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, and the ongoing tensions in the US-China relationship.
"The unconvincing personas, low-to-no friends/followers and co-ordinated posting patterns are identifiable indicators of inauthentic behaviour in this activity."
Beijing may also be ramping up the fake accounts as an exercise in "capability development", the report says.
ASPI's International Cyber Policy Centre, which made world headlines by exposing the Chinese government's Twitter disinformation campaign in June, also found the fake accounts are being created more rapidly than ever, despite more than 2000 YouTube channels being removed since April.
An account called "Malinda", using the heading "China will win", claimed that "Trump turns a blind eye to the lives and health of the … ordinary American people" and "the eyes of the masses are snowy".
Other pro-Chinese posts are shared within minutes of each other, suggesting "a single operator managing multiple accounts and amplifying the content posted earlier that day".
Ms Elise said the same pattern of behaviour was seen back in June this year, where one of the fake accounts shared four Chinese language videos and posts relating to the death of George Floyd within 16 minutes.
The videos are also being replaced as soon as they're removed.
On 26 August, a 'Kasey Eller' shared a YouTube video called "Trump: An Awkward Presidential Re election Dream" which was deleted by 31 August by YouTube, but a new version was almost immediately uploaded by the account 'Seaiolnmfrtdy Wakolnmftpodey'.
Originally published as Chinese fake news flooding social media on eve of US election