Rise of Pro-Chinese Inauthentic Networks

Light network at nightGraphika released a new report highlighting the emerging threat of pro-Chinese inauthentic networks. According to the report, a pro-Chinese political spam network, named Spamouflage Dragon for using spam as camouflage, started conducting disinformation operations on various social media platforms. The rise in English-language videos attacking American policy and the administration follows the escalation of “rhetorical confrontation” between the U.S. and China.

Spamouflage Dragon appears to have started information campaigns in the summer of 2019, primarily by attaching Hong Kong protesters and exiles Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. Later, the network began producing coronavirus-related content while praising Chinese Communist Party (CCP) response to the outbreak. The latest activity switches primarily to the U.S. and utilizes English as the primary language used in the videos. As described in the report, the videos are “clumsily made, marked by language errors and awkward automated voice-overs.” Furthermore, some of the social media accounts use stock photos for AI-generated profile pictures. However, the network does not seem to engage any authentic users, nor it attempts to hide its Chinese origin.

Overall, the research conducted by Graphika suggests the network’s ability to utilize machine learning for concealment of inauthenticity, relatively rapid content production cycles, with no channels achieving organic virality. As with most other disinformation campaign, Spamouflage Dragon network appears to be highly reactive to current events and focuses primarily on divisive political and social issues.

For more information, visit the HSDL resources related to Conspiracy Theories and Disinformation and Propaganda. Coronavirus related resources may also be found in the COVID-19 Special Collection. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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Author: Julia West

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