SEX BOTS are used to curb Chinese Covid protests: Porn accounts flood Twitter with racy escort ads and erotic videos ‘in Beijing plot to drown out reports on riots’
- Users searching for names of Chinese cities on Twitter found sea of lewd posts
- Dormant Chinese bot accounts flooded social network with porn and escort ads
- Analysts say its a CCP ploy to cover up scale of anti-lockdown protests in China
A torrent of spam posts advertising escort services have flooded Twitter amid protests against China’s Covid protocols, analysts have said, claiming the Chinese government is trying to cover up the scale of the demonstrations.
Searches performed on the social media network in Chinese for names of cities where anti-lockdown protests have erupted revealed untold numbers of erotic posts published by Chinese bot accounts.
Twitter was blocked in China by the ruling Communist Party (CCP) in 2009, but users in the country can still access the platform via a VPN or website proxy service and use it to find information not subject to Chinese censors.
Several major Chinese cities including Shanghai and the capital of Beijing have been rocked by protests in recent days, and researchers from Stanford University believe the porn-posting bot accounts are part of a government effort to scupper the spread of information on the social network.
Mengyu Dong, a Chinese-American researcher at Stanford University, posted numerous examples of the spam via his Twitter profile while other users called on the social network’s CEO Elon Musk to tackle the problem.
Stanford University researchers highlighted the problem that has seen searches for Chinese cities blotted out by a sea of erotic posts from bot accounts
Mengyu Dong, a Stanford researcher, posted several examples
This is one of untold numbers of racy posts which are revealed when a Twitter user performs a search for a major Chinese city
Protesters hold blank white pieces of paper during a protest triggered by a fire in Urumqi that killed 10 people in Beijing, China, 27 November 2022
Students at China’s top Tsinghua University in the capital city Beijing protest COVID lockdown measures
Large numbers of Chinese-language Twitter accounts burst into life on Sunday and began inundating search feeds with racy images, suggestive videos and links to escort services.
Many of the accounts were created years ago and had been lying dormant, having posted little to no content.
But since protests spread across the country this weekend, the accounts suddenly began churning out thousands of posts per day.
The erotic images and videos included in the posts are accompanied by the names of cities to ensure that the distraction would turn up in searches for those seeking information on the demonstrations.
Thousands of Chinese citizens rose up over the weekend to protest the government’s ruthless zero-Covid policy after ten people died in an apartment fire in the city of Urumqi, where residents were enduring their third month of total lockdown.
The protests have since broadened to include general anti-government sentiment, with stunning reports having emerged of citizens calling for President Xi Jinping to resign.
Twitter users posted multiple examples of the spam accounts and called on Twitter and its CEO Elon Musk to fix the problem
Spam accounts posted various images and videos urging Twitter users to visit porn and escort sites
Students take part in a protest against COVID-19 curbs at Tsinghua University in Beijing
Police officers block a road during a protest triggered by a fire in Urumqi that killed 10 people in Beijing, China, 27 November 2022
The sea of spam posts will prove a point of concern for Twitter CEO Musk, who has been vocal in his desire to cut down the number of bot accounts plaguing the platform.
One former employee at Twitter claimed ‘all the China influence operations and analysts at Twitter all resigned’ following Musk’s highly-publicised 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 to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity.
‘Another exhibit where there are now even larger holes to fill.’
But the cover-up operation seemed to be flagging by Monday morning, as videos and images of the protest once again emerged to the top of the search feeds.
A current Twitter employee told the Washington Post the company had been working on the problem since midday on Sunday.
‘Fifty percent porn, 50 percent protests,’ said one U.S. government contractor and China expert, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.
‘Once I got 3 to 4 scrolls into the feed’ to see posts from earlier in the day, it was ‘all porn.’
BBC journalist was beaten up and arrested ‘for his own good to stop him catching Covid’ while covering protests that have rocked China
A BBC journalist covering historic protests against President Xi Jinping’s lockdown rules in China was arrested and beaten by police officers, with Chinese officials later making the bizarre claim that he was detained for his ‘own good’ in case he caught Covid from the crowd.
Shocking footage from the anti-government protests in Shanghai shows Edward Lawrence, a camera operator for the BBC’s China Bureau, being dragged away by Xi’s officers as he screams ‘call the consulate now’ to a friend.
Mr Lawrence was beaten and kicked by the police officers and held in custody for ‘several hours’ before being released, as Chinese officials sought to crack down on the media and protesters in the city.
The British journalist said today that at least one local was arrested after they tried to stop the police from beating him during his arrest.
Shanghai police officers tried to dismiss the arrest as being for Mr Lawrence’s ‘own good’, claiming that he was arrested ‘in case he caught Covid from the crowd’. The BBC dismissed the farfetched explanation as implausible.
Footage also shows the journalist helpless on the ground with three aggressive officers in hi-vis jackets standing over him and pulling his arms behind his back
The UK’s Business Secretary Grant Shapps today denounced the officers’ actions as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘concerning’. He told LBC radio: ‘Whatever else happens, freedom of the press should be sacrosanct.’
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the human rights group the Henry Jackson Society in London, told the Mail: ‘This latest outrage shows the true face of the Chinese Communist Party’s regime in attacking all the values the West hold dear.
‘Media freedom is essential to our system and the Chinese crackdown against it needs the strongest of refutations from the UK Prime Minister. This is no time for him to go wobbly.’
China is facing its largest anti-government demonstrations since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, with protests erupting in at least seven cities over the country’s strict zero-Covid rules.
The catalyst for the protests was an apartment fire last week in the western city of Urumqi in which ten people died. Many speculated that Covid curbs in the city, parts of which had been under lockdown for 100 days, had hindered rescue and escape, which city officials denied.
The largest of the demonstrations has taken place in Shanghai – home to 26million residents – with many also boldly demanding that President Xi resign.
China’s foreign ministry today insisted the government’s ‘fight against Covid-19 will be successful’.
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