Platforms including Twitter and Facebook are failing to suspend and label thousands of bot accounts linked to the Chinese Communist Party, according to a new investigation conducted by the Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute.
“A seven-month investigation by the Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at Oxford University, found that China’s rise on Twitter has been powered by an army of fake accounts that have retweeted Chinese diplomats and state media tens of thousands of times, covertly amplifying propaganda that can reach hundreds of millions of people — often without disclosing the fact that the content is government-sponsored,” the outlet summarizes.
The new report highlights how Twitter – a platform that’s quick to censor American conservatives – is slow to tackle Chinese Communist Party propaganda and manipulation of algorithms. “Twitter’s takedowns often came only after weeks or months of activity. All told, AP and the Oxford Internet Institute identified 26,879 accounts that managed to retweet Chinese diplomats or state media nearly 200,000 times before getting suspended. They accounted for a significant share – sometimes more than half — of the total retweets many diplomatic accounts got on Twitter,” the report noted.
Data reveals that of the hundreds of thousands of accounts that amplify Chinese Communist Party-run accounts, only 5 percent are suspended.
Another table reveals how Twitter fails to label accounts belonging to Chinese Communist Party officials as “state-run.” Similarly, Facebook has labeled just 22 percent of state-run media outlets that don’t use English.
“Twitter, and others, have identified inauthentic pro-China networks before. But the AP and Oxford Internet Institute investigation shows for the first time that large-scale inauthentic amplification has broadly driven engagement across official government and state media accounts, adding to evidence that Beijing’s appetite for guiding public opinion – covertly, if necessary — extends beyond its borders and beyond core strategic interests, like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang,” the report added.