China hides Covid protests on Twitter with ‘Great Wall of Porn’ from spam bots

Home Technology China hides Covid protests on Twitter with ‘Great Wall of Porn’ from spam bots
China hides Covid protests on Twitter with ‘Great Wall of Porn’ from spam bots

Researchers have claimed a recent explosion of Chinese escort services being posted to Twitter are part of an comprehensive ploy by authorities to cover up news about a recent string of coronavirus protests.

As news of a protest uprising in Beijing, Shanghai and the far western Xinjiang region began lighting up online, so did countless previously-silent accounts on Twitter.

Posts advertising X-rated services featuring scantily-clad women have begun popping up everywhere when users searched for the names of the cities where thousands took to the streets against the government.

Stream your news live & on demand with Flash. From CNN International, Al Jazeera, Sky News, BBC World, CNBC & more. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer available for a limited time only >

Researchers at Stanford University spotted the scheme and pointed to a number of accounts that had been on the platform for years with minimal activity, before inundating their feed with links and pictures this week.

One spam account joined Twitter in November 2015, but all of its 2000-plus tweets were sent within the last 15 hours.

One former employee at Twitter said the problem of foreign political interference was common on the platform and claimed “all the China influence operations and analysts at Twitter all resigned” following Elon Musk’s takeover last month.

“This is a known problem that our team was dealing with manually, aside from automations we put in place,” said the former employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity via The Washington Post.

“Another exhibit where there are now even larger holes to fill.”

One of Musk’s major sticking points throughout his battle to seize Twitter was to reduce the amount of bots on the platform, with the billionaire arguing with previous executives about the portion of Twitter taken up by automated accounts.

China’s protests

Chinese residents took to the streets in major cities overnight after a high-rise residential blaze on Friday. The fire broke out on the 15th floor and rapidly spread to the higher floors – killing ten people and injuring another nine

The protest was kicked off by angry residents demanding to know if firefighters were delayed from coming inside the apartment block due to a quarantine order enforced by the government.

But they’ve since spread across the country — to at least nine cities — and have become a lot more serious.

From the capital Beijing to financial hub Shanghai, the deaths have led to protests across China and police have descended onto the streets to keep order as tensions boil over.

Protesters in Shanghai stood on police cars and others chanted “we don’t want PCR tests” as a vigil was held in the city for the fire victims on Saturday night.

Many protesters are holding up blank pieces of paper to indicate their anger and have called for President Xi Jinping to resign.

In extraordinary scenes, students at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University protested by singing the national anthem.

And some students were seen holding paper with the Friedmann equations scrawled on them, which explain how the universe evolves over time.

The use of the Friedmann equations is understood to be a play on the words “free man” and was dubbed a “genius move” on social media.

Other videos also show unrest in Shanghai, where citizens chanted “CCP, step down” and “Xi Jinping, step down” in the streets.

Eva Rammeloo, China correspondent for Dutch daily Trouw, described the scene via social media.

“Never seen anything like this in the decade that I report on China,” she said. “The anger seems too much to crack down on. Wonder what happens next.

“At the south end of the street are still more than a hundred people. They are yelling. ‘We are all Chinese!’

“ … First it was only a few hundred people. But they seem to be coming from far outside the city centre. More than a thousand now, I’m estimating.”

with Andrew Backhouse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.