For at least the past five years, a persistent online influence campaign linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sought to capitalise on world events to promote anti-American and pro-CCP narratives. In the months since the Israel-Hamas conflict began, the campaign has pivoted to incorporate the unfolding conflict into its broader narrative universe. Commonly referred to as Spamouflage, this years-long campaign has become infamous among researchers for both its sprawling size and its consistent failure to achieve any meaningful impact.   In April 2023 the US Department of Justice unveiled charges against 34 employees of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security for their participation in what is likely to be the Spamouflage campaign. The individuals charged allegedly worked for a central taskforce based in Beijing, known as the 912 Special Project Working Group. From there, they were coordinating propaganda units around the country to pump out propaganda targeting US and international audiences using fake accounts on Western social media platforms. At the end of August 2023, Meta removed 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 Facebook pages, 15 Facebook groups and 15 Instagram accounts linked to Spamouflage. This amounted to the largest ever single takedown on Meta platforms. It is not clear whether there were concurrent takedowns on X, previously known as Twitter, or on YouTube, both platforms on which Spamouflage is also very active (Google’s Threat Analysis Group tracks Spamouflage under the name ‘Dragonbridge’, but these are the same campaigns). This enormous takedown meant that Spamouflage was still in a rebuilding phase on Facebook in October and November 2023. Spamouflage has been the target of mass takedowns across multiple platforms multiple times; these takedowns rarely if ever succeed in removing all of their accounts, or in preventing them from reestablishing their presence. After the August takedown on Facebook, Spamouflage appears to have fallen back on accounts which may have flown under Meta’s radar, such as accounts which were active in early 2023 but not active in later months leading up to August. The campaign also began creating new accounts, for example a series of accounts using AI-generated women’s faces as profile pictures.

via isdglobal: Pro-CCP network ‘Spamouflage’ weaponizes Gaza conflict to spread anti-US sentiment

Categories: GewaltInternet