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Porn instead of information. Twitter flooded with “China” censorship

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Instead of information from Chinese cities where there have been thousands of days of large-scale protests, not just against strict anti-covid measures, you will see Asian pornography, spam and nonsense of various nature.

At first glance, it looks like a deliberate attempt by the Chinese government or its allies to suppress footage from the demonstrations, according to disinformation experts.

As soon as a user types Chinese characters for Beijing (北京), Shanghai (上海), Nanking (南京), or even Guangzhou, a stream of unwanted images and videos of scantily clad women, meaningless posts, and brightly colored animations appear in the search engine. (广州).

CNN checked some spam and found that some accounts were created recently, they practically didn’t follow anyone, and they themselves had no followers.

The blatant campaign of suspicious bot accounts represents one of Twitter’s first major tests of disinformation since Elon Musk bought the platform. The billionaire has personally pledged to fight bots and spammers, but at the same time cut Twitter’s workforce by more than half.

US lawmakers have already expressed concern over Twitter’s alleged vulnerability to harassment from abroad. Musk’s ties to China through one of his other companies, electric car maker Tesla, also casts doubt on his willingness to oppose the Chinese government.

GreatFire.org, the server that helps Chinese citizens in the country bypass internet censorship, saw a spam stream last week. At that time, search spam appeared after entering the capital of the Xinjiang Urumqi Autonomous Region. It was the first city to initiate a large-scale nationwide chain of protests.

What’s going on in China?

unprecedented largest since 1989. This is how experts evaluate the wave of anti-covid protests that spread to Chinese cities. However, experts do not have the strength to overthrow Xi Jinping and believe they will likely fail eventually.

Pornography and sex-related sites were among the first to be censored by China when it launched its crackdown on Internet content years ago, GreatFire.org told CNN. It’s not the business of private individuals, which the presenter also agrees with Stanford Internet Observatory director Alex Stamos. According to him, this is “a deliberate attack with the aim of flooding the Internet with information weeds and reducing the external visibility of protests in China.”

Stamos, who previously worked as Facebook’s chief security officer, later tweeted that the apparent disinformation campaign had convinced him to seriously consider leaving the social network. “We are rapidly approaching a point where any political discussion will be dominated by organized influence teams and spam,” he said.

“We want more curfews!”

Although Twitter is officially blocked in China, it is estimated that between 3 and 10 million people use it.

The Chinese are also creative in their forms of protest. Instead of being provoked by anti-government banners, people on the streets choose blank papers, mathematical equations, and even alpacas. An unprecedented wave of civil discontent, clashes with the police and protests against censorship have spread in major Chinese cities since the weekend.

An unwritten piece of paper became their symbol. But it should also remind of censorship or refer to the deaths of the ten people who died in Urumqi last week. White is the color of sadness in China.

On public transport, the police are checking people’s phones and looking for pictures from the demonstrations.

Students at Tsinghua University in Beijing removed the signs with a mathematical equation developed by Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann, whose surname is a synonym for “free man” in Chinese.

Others printed an exclamation mark on a red background on paper – a sign used when a message cannot be delivered on WeChat.

According to some Chinese Twitter users, the government is already pushing the white papers. Currently the leading office supplies supplier stoped Supply A4 paper to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and other cities to “stop the epidemic”.

A woman was seen walking three alpacas on the road in Urumqi. Internet users commented that this is a reference to one of the first protest memes against Internet censorship.

It is based on a pun using the Chinese words “chao ni ma”. You can either mean “muddy grass horse” or insult someone’s mother. (“Ma” = mother/at/etc., “ni” = you, yours. And “chao” may not only mean “grass” but also mean vulgarity, editor’s note).

The mud horse, which is said to resemble an alpaca, became a phenomenon on internet discussion forums and attracted worldwide media attention when it was featured in a false article on China’s Baidu Baike Wikipedia in 2009. Videos, cartoons and products about this animal have appeared.

When Internet censorship tightened in China in 2009, users posted pictures of an alpaca or “muddy mud horse” on Baidu to express their disappointment. Those who do not own alpacas or papers protest by chanting slogans “supporting” the regime’s policies. In Beijing, for example, they demanded “more curfews” and “even more covid testing”.

Source: Seznam Zpravy

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