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From porn bots to gambling ads: How China is quelling 'Zero Covid' protests online

From porn bots to gambling ads: How China is quelling 'Zero Covid' protests online

China has been roiled by weekend protests in Shanghai and Beijing, after crowds there and in other Chinese cities demonstrated against China's stringent zero-Covid measures.

Protests have broken out in China against the country's zero Covid policy that has led to a nationwide shut down once again. Protests have broken out in China against the country's zero Covid policy that has led to a nationwide shut down once again.

Officials close to the Chinese government are actively working on a social media campaign to hide country's biggest protests on social media, especially Twitter, according to reports.

This came to light on Monday when users took to Twitter to highlight that a search of major Chinese cities redirects to accounts of escorts, overtaking the news of protests that have been going on in these cities.

A user tweeted, "Chinese bots are flooding Twitter with *escort ads*, possibly to make it more difficult for Chinese users to access information about the mass protests. Some of these acts have been dormant for years, only to become active yesterday after protests broke out in China."

So, whenever a user searches for a city name like Shanghai or Beijing in chinese script, the search results are crowded by adverts to escorts, bot accounts indulged in pornography or even, gambling.

Alex Stamos, director of Stanford Internet Observatory and former chief security office at Meta (previously know as Facebook), said initial data suggests that this is an intentional attack to throw up informational chaff and reduce external visibility into protests in China.

Protests have broken out in China against the country's zero Covid policy that has led to a nationwide shut down once again.

Published on: Nov 29, 2022, 2:51 PM IST
Posted by: Rachna Manojkumar Dhanrajani, Nov 29, 2022, 2:47 PM IST