As a series of nationwide anti-COVID lockdown protests unfolded in China this weekend, Twitter users have had difficulty finding information on the social media platform due to an explosion of pornographic spam. .
While protesters are taking to the streets in Beijing and Shanghai to criticize COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, an army of digital bots has stormed Twitter, with a flurry of accounts. Long inactive Chinese account suddenly tweets links to escort services and other adult content.
Several prominent Chinese journalists and observers trying to follow the spontaneous protest movement on Twitter have complained that the flood of spam pornography makes searching for information about specific cities difficult. become difficult.
Bloomberg‘ Rebecca Choong Wilkins tweeted, “Twitter is inundated with spam posts making it harder to discover content about the protests that broke out across China.”
“The posts, many of which were sexually explicit, used hashtags to refer to Shanghai and other Chinese cities,” added Choong Wilkins.
Air-Moving Device, a Twitter account that tracks Chinese news, tweeted that it is possible that automated Chinese spam accounts are flooding Twitter’s latest news function. “Search Beijing/Shanghai/other cities in Chinese on Twitter and you’ll almost exclusively see prostitution/porn/gambling ads, crowding out legitimate search results. Analysis of the data in this topic shows that there was a meaningful increase in these spam tweets.
Twitter, along with other international social media services such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, is blocked by Beijing’s internet censorship authority within mainland China itself, although some Chinese users access the platform. this platform over VPN.
The protests in China come at a time when Twitter’s content and moderation teams have been slashed dramatically following Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the social media giant. An employee exodus at Twitter has seen the total number of employees drop from about 7,500 to 2,000, according to various reports.
“All Chinese analysts and influencers at Twitter have resigned,” a former Twitter employee told the paper. Washington Post.