Hundreds of fake Twitter accounts from Pakistan With Forged Chinese Identity Spreading Propaganda On Ladakh Incident
An official with Kerala Police’s Cyberdome has confirmed that there has been a surge in anti-India cyber propaganda activities for the past few weeks. “We only can identify such accounts and report it to Twitter. It is up to Twitter to take out such accounts. In recent months, Twitter has removed several fake profiles used for Chinese propaganda activities,” he said.
Technisanct, the cybersecurity firm, found such activities are carried out through social media networks like Twitter and Telegram. “Fake profiles are created with Chinese identity and photographs to make others believe that the posts are legitimate,” said Nandakishore Harikumar, CEO of Technisanct.
Even as tensions on the border with China escalate, social media has turned into another battlefront with misinformation campaigns seeking to defame India. A private cybersecurity agency based in Kochi found that hundreds of fake accounts — mostly from Pakistan — are propagating false news about the situation on the India-China border.
Technisanct has identified over 500 Twitter handles used to propagate false information in the current context. “As Chinese-Indian tensions started rising, we observed a huge growth in retweeting of pro-Chinese tweets. We identified multiple Pakistan operated handles that started to change their names and translate tweets into Chinese. Most of the accounts have a Pakistani flag and Chinese flag in their handles and a bio to create a feeling that Pakistan is highly backed by China,” he said.
Nandakishore said he suspects that these accounts are backed by the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. “Pakistan has been maintaining multiple digital war fronts and teams for the last many years. They have a dedicated political misinformation network that actively works against India. There has been a surge in this activity in the last few months. The digital warfare has peaked since India’s abrogation of Article 370.”
The Technisanct team used a platform called Twint and a trends map to gather information related to the discussion that happened in the aftermath of the Ladakh issue. After observing these Twitter accounts, its followers and past tweets, it was learnt that these are operated to propagate pro-Pakistan narratives. This is a strong organised activity working in a structured format creating Twitter groups and appointing administrators who get instructions from top-level individuals, he said.
For instance, an account from Pakistan which looks like a Chinese account tweeted a photo of two officers from both sides having a conversation with the hashtags #WorldWar3 and #LadakhBorder. From the analysis of its geographical locations, it was found that the tweets were from Pakistan and a few from Jammu and Kashmir. Most of the tweets gathered around 1000 plus retweets and 5000 plus ‘likes’.
Another account using a Chinese identity mostly boasts of Chinese military power. It was created in March and has posted around 500 tweets. The account which used to regularly tweet and retweet Urdu content suddenly changed the handle details to take up a Chinese identity.