The Twitter impersonators of Chinese language celebrities


It’s laborious to know the last word motive of those accounts, however the in a single day transition reveals that a minimum of one purpose of such content material farming is to money out. Posting paid ads or promoting the account outright can quantity to a profitable enterprise.

If a faux account fails to draw a following, it could actually merely select a brand new id and begin one other impersonating journey. That’s what occurred with one registered in March that alleged to be Fang Bin, a Chinese language nationwide who was detained for 3 years for sharing details about covid’s impression within the early months. By Could, the account had solely round 8,000 followers, so it deserted this id, cycled by a couple of different makes an attempt (together with “Anti-CCP On-line Person Alliance” and “Singaporean Scrumptious Meals”), and settled on Cui Chenghao, a mysterious ethnic Korean blogger in China who has almost 5 million followers on Weibo. 

The entire course of has been documented by different customers preserving monitor of the impersonator’s distinctive Twitter ID, which stays the identical no matter modifications to its identify and deal with. The final id has been extra profitable than the earlier ones, securing this account 20,000 further followers.

After the account of Luo Xiang was confirmed as faux, Lu tried to name for folks to unfollow and report it, however reporting for impersonation often requires the sufferer to have an actual presence on Twitter. In most of those instances, the victims have little incentive to register a Twitter account simply to clear their identify, and reporting nearly by no means works. Twitter responded to a request for remark with its now-standard poop emoji.

Twitter has by no means been efficient at moderating content material that’s not in English, however the scenario seems to have worsened because the moderation groups have been laid off after Musk took over. Final yr, Chinese language spam bots unfold so broadly that folks suspected they’d the Chinese language authorities’s help, however it was extra probably simply spammers making an attempt to earn cash.

Whereas they don’t pose a lot direct menace to the viewers or to the particular person they fake to be, these content material farms are muddying the ecosystem of Chinese language-language social media platforms, Lu says. By adopting clickbait—which in China usually means political content material—to realize followers, they’re polarizing the discourse in Chinese language.  

What different faux Chinese language celebrities have you ever noticed or suspected on Twitter? Let me know at zeyi@technologyreview.com.



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