Reply All: Inauthenticity and Coordinated Replying in Pro-Chinese Communist Party Twitter Networks

Reply All: Inauthenticity and Coordinated Replying in pro-Chinese Communist Party Twitter Networks

Published: 06th August 2020
Written By: Raymond Serrato and Bret Schafer

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and Alliance for Securing Democracy’s (ASD) new report sheds light on the tactics used to manipulate information online through the case study of a pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Twitter network targeting both Chinese and English-language audiences online. A central tactic of this network is the use of replies on Twitter to amplify pro-CCP narratives and to attack anti-CCP individuals or institutions – an understudied aspect of network behaviour to date.

ISD has used a multilayered research approach to provide a much more comprehensive picture of what coordinated networks can look like in 2020 and how difficult it can be to sift them out from authentic online activity. It is hoped this combined methodology can contribute to the burgeoning field of information operations research. This research was combined with the insights from ASD’s monitoring of official CCP social media networks to better understand the parallels in overt state activity and pro-state covert networks online.

The Long Tail of Influence Operations: A Case Study on News Front

This case study examines two websites and two blogging accounts which appear to be linked to News Front, a Crimean-based news organisation previously accused of being a source of pro-Kremlin disinformation and influence operations. While the impact of the site’s activity is low, the case study provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the broader disinformation ecosystem and sheds light on the long tail of state-linked online assets.