Twitter has taken down thousands of accounts linked to China that were part of a “manipulative and coordinated” campaign to spread disinformation around topics including the Hong Kong protests and the coronavirus.
The state-backed Twitter campaign highlights a shift in tactics from Beijing that have become more covert and akin to Russia’s disinformation tactics online, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank, which analyzed the recently taken down accounts, CNBC reported.
Protests in Hong Kong, China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, and Taiwan are among the topics the state-backed accounts tweeted about.
Demonstrations in Hong Kong have been going on for more than a year. The people there have been protesting the proposed national security law from Beijing and the growing influence of the Chinese central government on the semi-autonomous city which enjoys certain freedoms that mainland Chinese are not given. Protesters have clashed with police, who sometimes used methods such as tear gas to disperse the crowds.
According to CNBC, the U.S. protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. Protesters, who are campaigning for equal treatment of Black people, have also clashed with police.