This article from the New York times talks about the surge in Pro-Beijing Tweets being circulated on Twitter disparaging and belittling protests in Hongkong. The significance of this article is extremely prevalent in todays world, Thousands of bot accounts are being manipulated to post anti-protest tweets during certain key times in order to flood Twitter with mass amounts of Pro-Chinese messaging. This isn’t the first time we have seen a world government take action on social media in order to influence a certain audience, back in 2016 during the presidential election it is well known that Russian intervention on Social media influenced and coerced American opinions on the presidential candidates.
Whats particullarly interesting in this case is we see Pro-Beijing tweets being posted in more than one language possibly in an attempt to spread their agenda and to better conceal the source of the tweets. Investigations into the accounts posting these tweets, have revealed that these tweets come from bot accounts not under the control of the Chinese Government, but more likely an indepedent organizations acting in the interest of the Chinese Government. Although Twitter is banned in China, it is still accessable in Hongkong meaning that the platform was choosen for its ability to spread information quickly and for its accessablility to the people who care and have a vested interest in the Chinese intervention in Hongkong.
Twitter has taken action against these bot accounts by continously banning and removing their content, but due to the sheer number of tweets the Pro-Beijing content contines to circulate. This strategy of spreading disinformation seems to be working its intended purpose. In the past China has largely relied on propaganda and censorship in order to suppress anti-government values, but due to the fast exchange and great spread of information on social media, the Chinese government saw a chance to change the current social attitude regarding China’s intervention in Hongkong.