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Chinese Bots Inundate Twitter With Pornographic Spam Amid COVID Protests – Hollywood Reporter

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Several prominent China journalists and observers complained of a huge increase in spam posts this weekend.

November 28, 2022 1:02am
As a series of nationwide anti-COVID lockdown protests roil China this weekend, Twitter users were finding it difficult to search for information on the social media platform due to an explosion in pornographic spam.
While protestors were taking to the streets in Beijing and Shanghai to decry the COVID restrictions and rolling lockdowns, a digital bot army roared into gear on Twitter, with a phalanx of long-dormant Chinese language accounts suddenly tweeting links to escort services and other adult content.
Several prominent China journalists and observers trying to track the spontaneous protest movement on Twitter complained about the deluge of spam pornographic content making it difficult to search for information on particular cities.

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#武汉 Chinese net censors at attacking this Twitter tag by posting great numbers of sexy photos to distract people from Wuhan protests? Or just to jam the channel?
Bloomberg‘s Rebecca Choong Wilkins tweeted, “Twitter is being flooded with spam posts that make it harder to discover content about the protests breaking out across China.”
“The posts, many of which are sexually explicit, use hashtags referring to Shanghai and other Chinese cities,” Choong Wilkins added.
Twitter is being flooded with spam posts that make it harder to discover content about the protests breaking out across China. The posts, many of which are sexually explicit, use hashtags referring to Shanghai and other Chinese cities.

A slightly more SFW selection 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/BGlr9mh35H
Air-Moving Device, a Twitter account that tracks China news, tweeted that possible automated Chinese language spam accounts were inundating Twitter’s latest news function. “Search for Beijing/Shanghai/other cities in Chinese on Twitter and you’ll mostly see ads for escorts/porn/gambling, drowning out legitimate search results. Data analysis in this thread suggests that there has been a significant uptick in these spam tweets.”
Thread: Search for Beijing/Shanghai/other cities in Chinese on Twitter and you'll mostly see ads for escorts/porn/gambling, drowning out legitimate search results.
Data analysis in this thread suggests that there has been a *significant* uptick in these spam tweets. pic.twitter.com/Ao46g2ILzf
Twitter, along with other international social media services like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, is blocked by Beijing’s Internet censors within Mainland China itself, although some Chinese users access the platform via VPNs.
The China protests come at a time when Twitter’s content and moderation teams have been pared back drastically following Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the social media giant. An exodus of staff at Twitter has seen the overall head count drop from roughly 7,500 to 2,000, according to various reports.

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“All the China influence operations and analysts at Twitter all resigned,” an ex-Twitter employee told the Washington Post.
search the name of any major 🇨🇳city in Chinese: 北京 上海 南京 郑州 兰州 etc and you’ll see thousands of nsfw escort ads. While similar ads exist for years, they weren’t being shared with the same frequency as seen in the last 24h since mass protests broke out. see also: https://t.co/xJzYEO1jHf
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