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Reports say the U.S. military operates hundreds of anti-China Twitter accounts to spread anti-vaccine propaganda

The Pentagon is behind hundreds of Twitter accounts spreading anti-vaccine propaganda as a way to undermine China at the height of the covid-19 pandemic, according to an explosive report. Reuters Friday. U.S. government officials confirmed the existence of the campaign to Reuters, which launched in mid-2020 under former President Donald Trump and continued under President Joe Biden. Spring 2021.

The U.S. campaign includes “at least 300” Twitter accounts as well as Facebook and Instagram accounts, targeting social media users in the Philippines first. Year.

According to Reuters, the U.S. government posted on Twitter (now known as of vaccines. As Reuters points out, the Philippines has one of the worst Covid-19 vaccination rates in Southeast Asia and one of the highest death rates in the region.

The campaign was reportedly conducted at the U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and used the hashtag #ChinaAngVirus, which means “China is the virus” in Tagalog. After inquiries from Reuters, X deleted many of the accounts associated with the campaign.

From Reuters:

The Pentagon tailored its campaign to local audiences in Central Asia and the Middle East, using a combination of fake social media accounts across multiple platforms to sow fear among Muslims about Chinese vaccines at a time when the virus was killing tens of thousands. A key part of the strategy: amplifying the controversial argument that China’s vaccines could be considered prohibited under Islamic law because they sometimes contain pork gelatin.

While the campaign was launched under the Trump administration, Reuters found that it has continued with President Joe Biden in the White House despite warnings from Facebook executives about what was happening. Meta even held a Zoom call with members of the National Security Council, and although the discussions initially “became tense,” they eventually shut down the plan.

Somewhat surprisingly, Reuters got an anonymous senior Defense Department official to acknowledge the existence of the propaganda campaign. When psychological activity is revealed, governments often deny involvement. The article also quoted an unnamed Pentagon spokesman who tried to rationalize the deception, noting that China had launched its own disinformation campaign to “falsely blame the United States” for the spread of covid-19.

The Reuters report did not name many U.S. officials other than Presidents Biden and Trump, but the article did explain how Jonathan Braga, the military commander in charge of Southeast Asia, spread disinformation online to It has played an important role in countering Chinese influence. The plan was approved by Trump’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Reuters reported that at least six unnamed State Department employees objected.

File photo of MacDill Air Force Base, home to the U.S. psychological operations center, in 2015

Oddly enough, one of the reasons for the failure of the anti-vaccination movement may be that it was poorly run.

From Reuters:

A person with direct knowledge of the review said the Pentagon audit concluded that General Dynamics IT, the main military contractor responsible for the campaign, used sloppy intelligence tactics and did not take adequate steps to Hide the origin of fake accounts. The review also found that military leaders did not maintain adequate control over their psychological warfare contractors, the person said.

General Dynamics IT recently won the Contract worth $493 million More mental operations, if you can believe that.

Social media makes it easier for nation-state actors to spread disinformation, but the U.S. government has been spreading propaganda in foreign countries long before Twitter and Facebook were invented. In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. government spent years publishing falsely bylined articles in newspapers around the world.

The United States Information Agency (USIA) was the United States’ foreign propaganda agency during the Cold War and would write articles under names such as Guy Sims Finch to promote U.S. business interests. Gizmodo submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the CIA about the campaign in 2016, but it was denied on the grounds that we could not provide the real name of the person writing under that name, a purported effort to ensure privacy conditions for these governments. Personnel are treated with respect.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the CIA launched a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign in Pakistan that was actually a cover Get a DNA test Take part in a covert operation to find Osama bin Laden. The campaign sparked a backlash against all vaccinations in the region, causing immeasurable damage to public health for generations to come.

Recently, the United States was revealed to be conducting social media campaigns in Cuba to stoke anger against the communist government and even launch Your own version of Twitter. These efforts were first launched in 2010 and 2013 under President Barack Obama.

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