Twitter, Facebook Suspend ‘Inauthentic’ Chinese Accounts Attacking Hong Kong Protesters

WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Twitter and Facebook announced on Monday that the platforms are removing “inauthentic” accounts discovered to be operated from within the Chinese government. The social media platforms say that the “state-backed” fake accounts are attempting to undermine “the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement” in Hong Kong.

“We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change,” said Twitter in a statement.

“This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” noted the social media platform.

“Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” said Twitter. “Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation.”

Facebook followed Twitter’s lead and also released a statement on Monday disclosing the removal of fake accounts on its platform.

“Today, we removed seven Pages, three Groups and five Facebook accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a small network that originated in China and focused on Hong Kong,” said Facebook. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.”

Facebook cited Twitter as what spurred the company to investigate its own platform for potential “coordinated inauthentic behavior” by Chinese state actors.

“Based on a tip shared by Twitter about activity they found on their platform, we conducted an internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region and identified this activity,” said Facebook.

“We will continue monitoring and will take action if we find additional violations,” added Facebook. “We’ve shared our analysis with law enforcement and industry partners.”

Conversely, it was recently been reported that Twitter has accepted advertising from China’s largest state news agency seeking to portray Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters as violent through ads known as “promoted tweets.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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