Influence operations targeting #HongKongProtests are still active on Twitter, @AstroscreenHQ just found a live one! A THREAD
@AstroscreenHQ Between August 29 and September 4, *4,016* Twitter users posted 17,063 mentions of hashtags in support of the Hong Kong police and against the protesters. Our team found that at least 67% of those accounts were fake.
@AstroscreenHQ The 3 hashtags @astroscreenHQ analysed were #暴徒(thugs), #守護香港 (guarding Hong Kong) and #全民撐警 (National support for the police).
@AstroscreenHQ Out of 4,016 accounts involved in the pro-police campaign, 2,691 (67%) had 0 followers. A further 314 accounts had only between 1 and 5 followers.
@AstroscreenHQ The accounts were sharing visuals with explicit anti-HK protest messages.
@AstroscreenHQ The majority of the accounts involved in the campaign were created between August and September 2019.
@AstroscreenHQ It looks like @TwitterSafety is currently in the process of taking down these accounts. At the moment, only about half of them are still live.
@AstroscreenHQ What’s interesting about the dataset is that the accounts were clearly targeting a Chinese audience – they were tweeting in Chinese and were active during daytime hours in China.
@AstroscreenHQ @TwitterSafety @nickpickles The difference between this network and the one @Twitter took down last month is that these accounts were created very recently for the sole purpose of discrediting #HongKong protesters. They were more organised in their content dissemination, yet still painfully obviously fake
@AstroscreenHQ @TwitterSafety @nickpickles @Twitter One of the most influential accounts in our dataset is @ I_AdmireBieber - a Justin Bieber fan account that's been active since 2010.
@AstroscreenHQ @TwitterSafety @nickpickles @Twitter The account’s been dormant since 2014. It started tweeting again last week, when it first posted two copies of Justin Bieber's tweets and started pushing content criticising the #HongKong protestors
@AstroscreenHQ @TwitterSafety @nickpickles @Twitter All of the account's tweet referencing the #HongKong protests were amplified exclusively by inauthentic accounts
@AstroscreenHQ @TwitterSafety @nickpickles @Twitter @josephfcox Other than that, the influence operation is still on-going. Accounts that normally post spam are all of a sudden posting tweets criticising #HongKongProtest that are then amplified by rudimentary fake accounts with 0 followers/alphanumerical handles/no profile pictures
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