News / Asia

Free Tibet: Fake Twitter Accounts Spread Chinese Propaganda

FILE - A man holds an iPhone as he visits Sina's Weibo (China's version of Twitter) microblogging site in Shanghai.
FILE - A man holds an iPhone as he visits Sina's Weibo (China's version of Twitter) microblogging site in Shanghai.
VOA News

A human rights group says it has uncovered at least 100 fake Twitter accounts used to spread Chinese government's propaganda about Tibet.

The accounts, found by the organization Free Tibet, often used awkwardly constructed Western names and were accompanied by profile pictures that included photographs of American schoolgirls taken by professional photographers. Others used commercial stock images or pictures of dead celebrities.

Free Tibet spokesman Alistair Currie told VOA's Tibetan service many of the fake accounts trace back to the Chinese capital.  

"The accounts that we have identified are completely phony accounts," he said. "They don’t relate to any individuals. Many of these accounts link to a website which is a Beijing-based website of a company which denies knowledge of the accounts. It says it is responsible for the website, but not the fake accounts."

The London-based rights group says the accounts posted English-language articles that attacked the Dalai Lama and that portrayed Tibet as a "contented and idyllic Chinese province."

The New York Times says many of the fake Twitter accounts now appear to be suspended, just hours after the release of the Free Tibet report.

China has gone to great lengths to paint a picture of stability in Tibet, where more than 130 people have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Beijing's rule. It blames the Dalai Lama for inciting the self-immolations, a charge he rejects.

The Chinese government has not responded to the allegations found in the report by Free Tibet, which worked with the Times in its investigation.

Free Tibet did not explicitly accuse the Chinese government of setting up the accounts. But in a letter, it urged Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to ensure that the social media service "cannot be used for deceptive propaganda interests of authoritarian regimes in the future."

The campaign group said the accounts are "an act of cynical deception designed to manipulate public opinion regarding an occupied and brutally repressed country."

It is unclear whether the Twitter accounts had any impact on public opinion. But Free Tibet pointed out that one tweet attacking the Dalai Lama had been re-tweeted (shared on Twitter) more than 6,500 times.

By early Tuesday, Twitter had suspended many of the fake accounts found in the report. Free Tibet warned there are likely hundreds more fake accounts that have not been discovered.

Twitter and all other major Western social media are blocked in China, although Beijing's state-run media outlets do have Twitter accounts that disseminate the government's stances on domestic and international issues.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Tibetan service.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NY
July 25, 2014 10:55 AM
The CCP spends billions of yuan each year on domestic & foreign propaganda & much of that concerns Tibet. The fake Twitter accounts are new but the CCP also uses thousands of online "commentators" or 50 Cent Party to promote their views/policies in domestic/foreign websites (including VOA). Of course Xinhua, Global Times, China Daily, CCTV are well-known as propaganda agencies of the CCP.

by: ngawang from: in exile
July 22, 2014 1:33 PM
"U can lie to some people some time but u can't lie to all people all the time " may peace prevail on earth. China must change. Great job by the investigation team.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs