Pornography, Escort Service Advertisement Bots Flood Twitter Feeds Preventing Chinese Citizens From Accessing COVID Protest News | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Brandon Drey.

    Search results of current widespread protests opposing oppressive COVID lockdown measures in major cities across China were drowned out last weekend by Chinese bots advertising pornography, escort services, and gambling.

    Air-Moving Device, a Twitter account analyzing China through data graphs, showed charts indicating footage of widespread protests in Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities were nearly hidden from Chinese citizens to access information about the mass demonstrations.

    "Data analysis in this thread suggests that there has been a significant uptick in these spam tweets," the outlet said, sharing data retweeted by Stanford Internet Observatory.

    Chinese citizens flooded the streets after the Chinese Communist Party's "Zero COVID" policy prevented firefighters from rescuing residents locked inside a burning apartment building in Urumqi, leaving at least ten people dead.

    The growing conflict between the government and the Chinese people has accelerated in recent weeks after some cities and provinces endured more than 100 days of severe lockdowns of China's "Zero COVID" policy, despite just 38,000 people testing positive for the coronavirus among a population of over 1.4 billion.

    Chinese Communist Party authorities have fenced in residents across the country with limited opportunities to travel while other provinces have implemented such lockdowns for more than three straight months as the nation's pandemic policies extend into its third year, sparking citizen's demands for Communist Party authoritarians to resign.

    Mengyu Dong, a student data journalist at Stanford University, shared images of some ads, saying some of the accounts "have been dormant for years, only to become active ... after protests broke out in China."

    In a series of tweets, Dong showed various inactive accounts created as far back as 2015, flooding the social media platform with thousands of tweets within 24 hours.

    The Washington Post reports that an anonymous U.S. government contractor and China expert said search results showed 50% porn and 50% protests while scrolling for news and images of the protests.

    "Once I got three-to-four scrolls into the feed," it was "all porn," the contractor said.

    A former Twitter employee told The Washington Post the platform has used suspected government-connected accounts have used similar techniques in the past.

    "This is a known problem that our team was dealing with manually, aside from automations we put in place," said the anonymous former employee.

    The employee added the mass tweet campaign "was another exhibit where there are now even larger holes to fill" after the "China influence operations and analysts at Twitter all resigned."

    A current anonymous Twitter employee told an outside researcher that the company was aware of the problem.

    Twitter CEO Elon Musk said that the platform experienced slight service "degradation" on Sunday from an old 3rd party tool used to block accounts with no rate limit, which some users believe may have contributed to the issue.

    "Should be fixed now," he added.

    Bloomberg reports Apple Inc. allegedly limited it's AirDrop wireless file-sharing feature on iPhones in China to prevent protestors sending documents, images, and videos in their latest iOS version released last week, which caps non-contacts from receiving files at 10 minutes.

    Dillon Burroughs contributed to this report.
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