Thursday, April 18, 2024

Chinese bots flood Twitter in a bid to try and obscure Covid protests

In an apparent state-directed effort to suppress footage of the protests, Twitter has been overloaded with nuisance tweets.

Chinese bot accounts, which are not managed by humans, are used to flood social networking services with advertisements for sex workers and pornography. Users search for major cities in China using Chinese script.

Alex Stamos is the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. He said that the Chinese activity was a “first major failure” to stop government interference” under Twitter’s ownership. The actions were meant to restrict international observation of protests, as Twitter access is blocked in China. You can access Twitter from China using a virtual private network. This creates an encrypted connection between your computer and remote servers that can be found anywhere in the world.

First reported by the Washington Post, the manipulation of Twitter by Chinese government source is a result of widespread job cuts at Twitter. This includes members of Twitter’s safety and trust team. Musk , who purchased Twitter last month for $44bn (PS36.4bn), has fired half the 7,500 employees and another 1,200 have reportedly resigned. He reportedly told other workers to either accept being “hardcore”, or leave.

A whistleblower in July warned that Twitter was vulnerable to foreign interference. Peiter Zatko was fired in January as the head of security. He claimed he knew of multiple instances of Twitter being hacked by foreign intelligence agencies, or that he was complicit in a threat against democracies.

Tech Against Terrorism is a United Nations-backed non profit organisation that warned last week that Twitter’s staff cuts could expose it to terrorist exploitation. Concerns were raised about the possibility of ban accounts being reinstated for promoting hate and violence. The organization also suggested a new policy that would allow hateful content to be demolished rather than removed entirely.

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As frustrations over the government’s Covid policies simmered, protests broke out in dozens of Chinese cities this weekend.

People from a single digit to over 1,000 joined together for peaceful street protests and candlelit vigils. Protesters in Wuhan pushed past pandemic barriers. In Shanghai, demonstrators clashed against police. Protesters are holding candles, phones lights and blank paper and calling for an end to lockdowns as well as frequent mass testing.

Other protests have called for democracy, press freedom and the end of online censorship. Reports also indicate that there were chants echoing the slogans of the Beijing bridge protester at last month’s Communist Party congress political meeting.

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Steven Black (n0tst3)
Hello! I'm Steve, an independent security researcher, and analyst from Scotland, UK. I've had an avid interest in Computers, Technology and Security since my early teens. 20 years on, and, it's a whole lot more complicated... I've assisted Governments, Individuals and Organizations throughout the world. Including; US DOJ, NHS UK, GOV UK. I'll often reblog infosec-related articles that I find interesting. On the RiSec website, You'll also find a variety of write-ups, tutorials and much more!

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