Pro-China misinformation operation attempting to exploit US Covid divisions, report says

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  s  •  one week ago  •  41 comments

Pro-China misinformation operation attempting to exploit US Covid divisions, report says
This direct call for physical mobilization is a significant development compared to prior activity, potentially indicative of an emerging intent to motivate real-world activity outside of China's territories,"

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




A pro-Chinese government online influence operation is targeting Americans in an effort to exploit divisions over the Covid-19 pandemic and "physically mobilize protestors in the US in response," according to a   new report   from cybersecurity firm Mandiant and experts at Google.


The operation, which initially attempted to discredit   pro-democracy protests   in Hong Kong in 2019, has expanded into a "global campaign that's operating in seven languages, on at least 30 social media platforms and across 40+ website & forums," experts at Mandiant and Google say, noting parallels to the Russian disinformation campaign around the 2016 presidential election.

US officials believe the operation is linked to the Chinese government and have been monitoring its evolution, according to one source familiar with the situation. During the 2020 election, US officials were watching to see if the operation might be used to spread disinformation but ultimately assessed that the Chinese government avoided doing so because it did not want to provoke a response, the source added.

Months later, experts have observed an "explosion of activity" across the world and the move to make physical protests happen in the US "demonstrates they are a very serious threat," Mandiant Threat Intelligence Vice President John Hulquist told CNN.



"This direct call for physical mobilization is a significant development compared to prior activity, potentially indicative of an emerging intent to motivate real-world activity outside of China's territories," the report says. "While this attempt did not appear to achieve any success, we believe it is critical that observers continue to monitor for such attempts in case greater degrees of organic engagement are later realized by the network."


In April for example, experts saw thousands of fake accounts calling on Asian Americans to protest racial injustice in the US and "disinformation about the virus' origins." While experts found no evidence these posts were successful in mobilizing protesters, the report says "it does provide early warning that the actors behind the activity may be starting to explore, in however limited a fashion, more direct means of influencing the domestic affairs of the US."

While there has been limited engagement with these pro-Chinese accounts, the operation's massive scope shows the actors responsible have "significantly expanded their online footprint and appear to be attempting to establish a presence on as many platforms as possible to reach a variety of global audiences," according to Mandiant's experts.

"Over the past two years, we have seen this threat actor evolve, from the types of content they publish to the tactics they use to amplify it. However the most significant features of this network remain its scale and persistence, in spite of low engagement levels. That is why we've taken an aggressive approach to identifying and removing disinformation from this network," Shane Huntley, Director of Google's Threat Analysis Group, said.

"We anticipate they will continue to experiment to drive higher engagement and encourage others in the community to continue tracking this actor, shedding light on their operations and taking action against them," he added.

Cyber espionage from China against the United States has spiked since the Covid-19 outbreak began and Beijing has consistently sought to shape the global narrative through overt and covert means.

For months, Chinese officials have overtly spread false and misleading information about the virus and its origins.



But the US and several of its European allies have also been more cautious in attributing disinformation and other malicious cyber activity to China than it has other state actors, namely Russia and Iran in recent years.

When pressed on the issue In May 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen denied allegations that the EU watered down a report on coronavirus disinformation after being pressured from China.

While experts at Mandiant and Google say they have not seen these specific pro-Chinese accounts wade into election specific content to date, they did warn that the actors responsible could be gearing up for a more expansive disinformation push that could very well be conducted in a similar way to Moscow's campaign to meddle in the 2016 US election. with similar intent to what US intelligence agencies said was deployed by Moscow during the 2016 race.

Beijing isn't the only US adversary linked with sweeping online efforts to undermine confidence in democratic institutions. German officials on Monday blamed Russia's GRU military intelligence agency for a hacking campaign targeting politicians ahead of Germany's general election in September. The same hacking group has also gone after US allies such as Poland with false narratives about NATO, according to researchers.





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Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Sean Treacy    one week ago

China meddles in our, and other countries, internal affairs. Whether it's spreading lies about Covid vaccines, pushing conspiracy theories about Covid's origins or trying to cause domestic unrest, the CCP is following the lead of Putin. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Sean Treacy @1    one week ago
the CCP is following the lead of Putin. 

I think the CCP has something Putin never had - a very receptive audience.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.1  Gsquared  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1    one week ago

Your comment is deceptive, propagandistic disinformation.  

As everyone well knows, Putin's most receptive audience, his VERY receptive audience, was your President, Donald Trump.  Of course, groups such as the NRA were also very receptive audiences for Putin.

Any attempt to deny these truths are a shameful disgrace.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.1    one week ago
Your comment is

My comment is correct.


Any attempt to deny these truths are a shameful disgrace.

Sounds like a line from China Daily.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.2    one week ago
"Sounds like a line from China Daily."

LOL.  That's a very weak attempt to smear someone who criticized a comment.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.4  Gsquared  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.2    one week ago

Your comment is clearly deceptive propagandistic disinformation.  It sounds like something from Volkischer Beobachter, or, today's version, Stormfront.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.1    one week ago

You are correct Gsquared, as usual.  

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.1.6  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.1    one week ago
Putin's most receptive audience, his VERY receptive audience, was your President, Donald Trum

trump bought the Steele dossier? Trumps charity was given millions by Putin’s oligarchs?

It’s funny to watch the same people who fell hook line and sinker for the Russia and Trump conspired to steal the 2106 election claim others fell for Putin’s lies.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Senior Principal
1.1.7  Nerm_L  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.4    one week ago
Your comment is clearly deceptive propagandistic disinformation.  It sounds like something from Volkischer Beobachter, or, today's version, Stormfront.

The Steele dossier was not produced at the behest of Trump or Trump's supporters.  Those who embraced that disinformation from Russia are also receptive to disinformation from the CCP.  Some sit in Congress.

The adversaries of the United States understand who are most susceptible to emotion-laden propaganda.  The adversaries of the United States understand who can be persuaded by socialist propaganda.  The adversaries of the United States understand who in the political landscape are most receptive to spittle-spewing righteous outrage with calls for protest, revolution, and violent activism against American history, culture, and ideas.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1.8  Vic Eldred  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.4    one week ago

Your comment is clearly false, nasty and rude.  A game we can all play.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.1.9  Tessylo  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.8    one week ago

No, it's not. 

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.10  Gsquared  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.6    one week ago

Helsinki

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.11  Gsquared  replied to  Nerm_L @1.1.7    one week ago
The adversaries of the United States understand who are most susceptible to emotion-laden propaganda.  The adversaries of the United States understand who can be persuaded by [socialist] propaganda.  The adversaries of the United States understand who in the political landscape are most receptive to spittle-spewing righteous outrage with calls for protest, revolution, and violent activism against American history, culture, and ideas.

Yes, the adversaries of the United States do well-understand how the Trumpist-Fascists, QLoons and other spittle-spewing right-wing extremists fall for their propaganda.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.12  Gsquared  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.8    one week ago
Your comment is clearly false, nasty and rude.  A game we can all play.

From my reading, you're the master at that game.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Senior Principal
1.1.13  Nerm_L  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.11    one week ago
Yes, they do well-understand how the Trumpist-Fascists, QLoons and other spittle-spewing right-wing extremists fall for their propaganda.

How many times have Trumpist-Fascists, QLoons, and other spittle-spewing right-wing extremists shut down interstate highways, confronted police with mob violence, and burned cities?

Once on Jan. 6th?

Our adversaries know who are the useful tools for their purposes.  Our adversaries know who will listen to emotion-laden propaganda and engage in mob violence that disrupts society.  Our adversaries know who disparages patriotism, destroys national pride, and uses our own government against our national interests.  Our adversaries know who in the United States wants to be like them.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.14  Gsquared  replied to  Nerm_L @1.1.13    one week ago
Our adversaries know who will listen to emotion-laden propaganda and engage in mob violence that disrupts society... Our adversaries know who in the United States wants to be like them.

They sure do... Dylann Roof, Timothy McVeigh, the Charlottesville Nazis, The Atomwaffen Division, Patrick Crusius, Buford O. Furrow, Jr., Robert Gregory Bowers and the other heroes of the right.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Senior Principal
1.1.15  Nerm_L  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.14    one week ago
They sure do... Dylann Roof, Timothy McVeigh, the Charlottesville Nazis, The Atomwaffen Division, Patrick Crusius, Buford O. Furrow, Jr., Robert Gregory Bowers and the other heroes of the right.

You've only listed one example that could be considered a mob.  And even that one mob didn't violently confront police and burn Charlottesville.  Revolt is a numbers game and its not right-wing extremists who have the numbers.  Cities were burned as a response to Charlottesville but it wasn't right-wing extremists that did the burning.

Our adversaries are pushing disinformation about the threat of small fringe groups who couldn't occupy a quick mart let alone threaten and coerce the government.  

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.1.16  Tessylo  replied to  Nerm_L @1.1.15    one week ago

Right wing extremists/AKA domestic terrorists - are the US's largest threat.  

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
1.1.17  Gsquared  replied to  Nerm_L @1.1.15    one week ago

Your comment is totally disingenuous. 

Roof, McVeigh, Crusius, Furrow, Bowers, the Nazis, the Klan, the militias, the QLoons are all part of the same mob.  Right-wing extremists whose intent is cause murder and mayhem and to overthrow our government.

There wasn't a single city that was "burned as a response to Charlottesville".

Our adversaries are pushing disinformation about the threat of small fringe groups

Good to know that you consider the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security as your adversaries.

couldn't occupy a quick mart 

But they could occupy the U.S. Capitol.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
2  Ed-NavDoc    one week ago

Somebody will come along and tell us this is all in our imagination and that China has no need to do things like that and that it's all the US's fault anyway.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2    one week ago

Well, Ed, you will see from my comment that I never said what was happening was in your imagination, nor did I say it was the US's fault.  Whether or not China NEEDS to do such things is simply an opinion.  All I did was point out that the seed is an example of how the media is able to manipulate the opinions of the public, with my opinion of why it was posted. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
2.2  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2    one week ago
hina has no need to do things like that and that it's all the US's fault anyway

Like clockwork.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3  Buzz of the Orient    one week ago
"US officials believe the operation is linked to the Chinese government...."

"...potentially indicative of an emerging intent to motivate real-world activity outside of China's territories," 

 "it does provide early warning that the actors behind the activity may be starting to explore, in however limited a fashion, more direct means of influencing the domestic affairs of the US."

 "and appear to be attempting to establish a presence..."

"We anticipate they will continue to experiment..."

"...they did warn that the actors responsible could be gearing up for a more expansive disinformation push that could very well be conducted..."

Oh how I love the clever use of INDEFINITE language to plant a concept in the minds of readers who are not intelligent enough to realize how they are being manipulated. 

Well, at least the seed indicates that the Chinese government is most likely not behind it...

"US officials were watching to see if the operation might be used to spread disinformation but ultimately assessed that the Chinese government avoided doing so because it did not want to provoke a response,..."
"But the US and several of its European allies have also been more cautious in attributing disinformation and other malicious cyber activity to China than it has other state actors, namely Russia and Iran in recent years."

In my opinion, seeds such as this one are posted for the purpose of deflecting attention from the realities of American present problems and failures.  My belief is that America does the same things that it accuses others of doing and is desperately attempting in many ways to contain and prevent China from progressing. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1  Tessylo  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    one week ago
"US officials believe the operation is linked to the Chinese government...."

"...potentially indicative of an emerging intent to motivate real-world activity outside of China's territories," 

 "it does provide early warning that the actors behind the activity may be starting to explore, in however limited a fashion, more direct means of influencing the domestic affairs of the US."

 "and appear to be attempting to establish a presence..."

"We anticipate they will continue to experiment..."

"...they did warn that the actors responsible could be gearing up for a more expansive disinformation push that could very well be conducted..."
"Oh how I love the clever use of INDEFINITE language to plant a concept in the minds of readers who are not intelligent enough to realize how they are being manipulated. 

Well, at least the seed indicates that the Chinese government is most likely not behind it...

"US officials were watching to see if the operation might be used to spread disinformation but ultimately assessed that the Chinese government avoided doing so because it did not want to provoke a response,..."
"But the US and several of its European allies have also been more cautious in attributing disinformation and other malicious cyber activity to China than it has other state actors, namely Russia and Iran in recent years."

In my opinion, seeds such as this one are posted for the purpose of deflecting attention from the realities of American present problems and failures.  My belief is that America does the same things that it accuses others of doing and is desperately attempting in many ways to contain and prevent China from progressing." 

SPOT ON BUZZ!!!!!!!  SPOT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Projection, I've been saying it for so long now . . . . . . also deflection.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.1.1  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Tessylo @3.1    one week ago
 minds of readers who are not intelligent enough to realize how they are being manipulated
POT ON BUZZ!!!!!!! 

so you believe the Biden administration is lying when it claims China is spreading misinformation about vaccines. And you believe that the virus started in America.  [deleted]

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.1.1    one week ago

Where did I say that?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.2    one week ago

LOL. Now you know, as I have known for a long time, what it's like to have words put in your mouth. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.1.4  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.2    one week ago
here did I say that?

I thought you understood the implication of your comment. Apparently not. 

[deleted]

Is the Biden admisntration lying when it states China spreads misinformation about vaccines?  Yes or No?

Did, as the Chinese Government has claimed, covid originate in Maryland?   Yes or No?

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.1.4    one week ago

I don't answer to you.  

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.1.6  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.5    one week ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.2  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3    one week ago
h how I love the clever use of INDEFINITE language to

Yes Buzz, the authors can't pretend to speak to the motives or future plans of a foreign country.  That  calls for indefinite language.  

For months, Chinese officials have overtly spread false and misleading information about the virus and its origins.

There's nothing "indefinite" about that, is there?

eaders who are not intelligent enough to realize how they are being manipulated

Yes, I'm sure some people will fall for your smoke and mirrors argument.

st the seed indicates that the Chinese government is most likely not behind it.

No, the seed indicates only   the Chinese government did not run an  misinformation campaign related to the 2020 election because of fear of retaliation. That's it. 

such as this one are posted for the purpose of deflecting attention from the realities of American present problems and failures.

SO that's why China is promoting a crazy conspiracy theory about the origins of the virus.

My belief is that America does the same things that it accuses others of doing and is desperately attempting in many ways to contain and prevent China from progressing. 

Yes, that's what CNN and cyber security job Mandiant  is up to. It's taking orders from "America" to stop China from progressing.  

Do you ever stop and think about how ridiculous your conspiracy claim is ? [deleted]   Multi-national corporations and cyber security firms don't take orders from the government about what to print. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.2    one week ago

OMG, your comments are so hateful, so desperately damning China it's almost laughable.  

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.2.2  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.1    one week ago

[deleted]

[the member is not the topic]

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.2.3  Tessylo  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.1    one week ago

So true Buzz.  It's shameful.  

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Principal
4  Hallux    one week ago

Why is this article not called MAYBE? or more 'honestly' PERHAPS?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
4.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Hallux @4    one week ago

It is MY belief that America MUST have an enemy, it is necessary to keep the arms manufacturers in business, and their being in business is necessary for the American economy to thrive.  So now that the 20 year war in Afghanistan is over, and although there are lesser ones cropping up in other countries, they don't require enough American armaments.  America needs a BIG enemy in order to be prepared for a BIG war, so it is doing everything it possibly can to make China its BIG enemy, even though Russia has always been there even if Trump played footsies with Putin and kissed Kim's ass.  I don't think I need to list all the ways America has been trying to do it, to provoke such a war, but China isn't biting. 

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Principal
4.1.1  Hallux  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4.1    one week ago

... and if not an exterior enemy, the next best thing an interior enemy.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Hallux @4.1.1    one week ago

Not necessary to benefit the arms manufacturers - so many Americans are already armed and ready for battle.  It is a shame that the nation has become so viciously divided.  Besides, who do you think IS the enemy?

OIP-C.qDb3FLNg4ZvqouU-cJywvQHaLS?pid=ImgDet&rs=1

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Principal
4.1.3  Hallux  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4.1.2    one week ago

In a word or 2, hubris + nemesis.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
4.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Hallux @4.1.3    one week ago

In spades. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
4.2  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Hallux @4    one week ago
Why is this article not called MAYBE? or more 'honestly' PERHAPS?

Yes, that's what one does when speculating about the future or the motives behind a disinformation campaign.

There's no speculation about what has happened: 

For months, Chinese officials have overtly spread false and misleading information about the virus and its origins.

 
 
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