Fake Chinese ‘state’ Twitter accounts revealed by investigation

A charity has uncovered a host of fake social media accounts seeming to promote the official Chinese stance on Tibet.

The Twitter accounts, discovered by Free Tibet, were taken down by the social network firm on Tuesday.

A number of the accounts were linked to celebrities, with the likes of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and Smallville actress Erica Durance seemingly supporting China’s controversial stance on the Himalayan region.

The tweets are written in both Chinese and English, often deriding meetings between the Dalai Lama and political leaders of the world. They also link to pro-Chinese/Tibet articles and reports across the internet.

Although adhering to search engine optimisation (SEO) basics, the content and delivery of the blogs is not of a high quality. Indeed, many of them are nothing more than a litany of gibberish, suggesting that amateur organisations rather than professional SEO copywriting services are being used.

There is no conclusive link from the posts to the Chinese authorities, but the communications manager for Free Tibet, Alistair Currie, has his suspicions, adding:

“It’s hard to imagine anyone getting any benefit from this project other than the Chinese government.”

The accounts were found to have duplicate and overlapping content, while the majority of the supposed-user’s names were a concatenation of dual Western forenames. There was also evidence of questionable retweeting, repeated links and other interactions between accounts.

Access to both Facebook and Twitter has been restricted in China since 2008, but state authorities use the sites as newsfeeds, as well as to attract tourists and international investment.

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