Social media and the media have become "more" of a weapon in war and in non-war. Of course this is not new, but the range, reach and immediacy of the internet and other virtual media have expanded the significance of these - whether in the Ukraine and with the Russian media such as RT, in the Middle East with the Qatar government sponsored Al Jazeera and now with this new report of the extension of the activities of the Chinese government:
"Free Tibet has also urged Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to introduce, as a matter of urgency, policies to prevent Twitter being used for deceptive propaganda in the interests of authoritarian regimes (6).
In her letter to Mr Costolo, Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said
“A company of Twitter’s size and high profile must take responsibility for failing to prevent abuse on this scale for the political purposes of an authoritarian regime. These accounts are not the exercise of free speech but an act of cynical deception designed to manipulate public opinion regarding an occupied and brutally repressed country."And here is the report in the LA Times:
Dozens of pro-China Twitter accounts outed by Free Tibet as fakes
"Free Tibet identified about 100 fake accounts and said there were probably hundreds more. They submitted their findings Monday to Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo and released the results to the New York Times.
Not only were the fake identities unusually good-looking, many of them had two first names, such as Tom Hugo, Ken Peters and Felix James, as though they were randomly chosen by a
computer program. Some also had YouTube and MySpace accounts. They listed one another as followers, retweeting each other. One tweet criticizing the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, was retweeted 6,555 times.
Their messages either condemned the Dalai Lama or the Japanese, or praised daily life in Tibet or Xinjiang, the restive northwestern region, often tweeting articles from Chinese propaganda sites."