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Covid-19 Disinformation & Social Media Manipulation

A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online, and will occasionally publish investigative, data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories by these actors.

The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool - a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This new tool can ingest data in multiple languages and auto-translate, producing insights on topics, sentiment, shared content, influential accounts, metrics of impact and posting patterns.

The following reports are listed in order of most recent:

#2. Covid-19 attracts patriotic troll campaigns in support of China’s geopolitical interests

This new research highlights the growing significance and impact of Chinese non-state actors on western social media platforms. Across March and April 2020, this loosely coordinated pro-China trolling campaign on Twitter has:

  • Harassed and mimicked western media outlets
  • Impersonated Taiwanese users in an effort to undermine Taiwan’s position with the World Health Organisation (WHO
  • Spread false information about the Covid-19 outbreak
  • Joined in pre-existing inauthentic social media campaigns

23 April 2020

#1. Covid-19 disinformation and social media manipulation trends

Includes case studies on:

  • Chinese state-sponsored messaging on Twitter
  • Coordinated anti-Taiwan trolling: WHO & #saysrytoTedros
  • Russian Covid-19 disinformation in Africa

8-15 April 2020