Nearly 100 fake Twitter accounts are being used to spread propaganda about the troubled Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, according to an investigation from Free Tibet, a London-based advocacy group.
As the New York Times reports, many of the purportedly fake accounts are used to portray the regions in a rosy light, despite decades of unrest under communist rule, and some include attacks on the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader. Many of the accounts have since been suspended by Twitter, but Free Tibet warns that there may be hundreds more.
China has come under intense international criticism in recent years for its treatment of Tibetans and Uighurs, an ethnic minority concentrated in Xinjiang. Both groups have accused Beijing of suppressing religious and commercial freedoms, though China has gone to great lengths to discredit their grievances.
The accounts uncovered by Free Tibet are operated under Western names, and with profile photos taken from models and stock image services on the internet. Many include links to English-language articles and photos on Chinese websites that support the state’s position, casting Tibetans as happy and appreciative of Chinese rule. Most of the accounts have small followings, though some number in the thousands. A tweet that linked to an article critical of the Dalai Lama was retweeted 6,500 times.
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