(U//FOUO) DHS Report: Chinese Municipal Government Publishing Anti-US Social Media Content With Limited Reach

The following report was obtained from the public website of a regional law enforcement group.

China: Municipal Government Publishing Anti-US, Pro-China Social Media Content With Limited Reach

Page Count: 7 pages
Date: April 27, 2023
Restriction: For Official Use Only
Originating Organization: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis
File Type: pdf
File Size: 1,288,068 bytes
File Hash (SHA-256): F6C33E36724096457EF3F000F458F5B50278DA1C421DBED5B85D0567944A345E

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(U//FOUO) Scope Note: DHS has attributed a cluster of inauthentic Twitter accounts to a municipal government entity in the People’s Republic of China. At least some of the accounts are part of a larger unattributed network of social media accounts that promotes Beijing’s interests, called DRAGONBRIDGE. Our attribution of these accounts to the municipal government could yield continuing insight into People’s Republic of China social media messaging operations; this analysis provides a framework for identifying and attributing other PRC clusters, which may grant greater insight into the command and control structures of PRC social media messaging operations.

(U//FOUO) A People’s Republic of China (PRC) municipal government-controlled media outlet is very likely directing a cluster of English-language, coordinated inauthentic Twitter accounts that posted content denigrating the United States (see graphics). The cluster of accounts, which we have dubbed SPICYPANDA, has been active from at least January 2021 and has published sophisticated content, but it failed to grow a follower base thus far. DHS attributed SPICYPANDA to the municipal media entity Chongqing International Communications Center (CICC) based on its leadership’s creation of SPICYPANDA’s anti-US messaging campaign, its overt ties to a website promoted by the accounts, and its Western social media messaging accolades and capabilities.

(U//FOUO) Overview of DRAGONBRIDGE and its Narratives

(U//FOUO) Some of the identified inauthentic Twitter accounts are part of both the SPICYPANDA cluster and a larger network known as DRAGONBRIDGE. DRAGONBRIDGE has been tracked for the past three years by private sector researchers, but it has not been previously attributed—in whole or in part—to a specific person or group.

(U//FOUO) DRAGONBRIDGE (also known as SPAMOUFLAGE DRAGON) is a large network of social media accounts first observed on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in 2019 criticizing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Since then, accounts in the network have been observed posting in seven languages on 20 social media platforms and on over 40 other websites. The network is comprised of many clusters of co-managed accounts that seemingly operate independently of each other, judging from two private sector analytic reports on the network and a DHS review of identified and suspected accounts. DRAGONBRIDGE has employed at least 100,000 accounts in its history on a single social media platform, according to the identified platform, and we assume it has employed similar numbers of accounts on other major platforms. Despite the size of the network, it rarely engages with authentic social media users; however, it has had some limited success in reaching individuals recently.

(U) Since 2019, DRAGONBRIDGE has posted content regarding Hong Kong, COVID-19, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taiwan, the 2022 Beijing Olympics, rare earth mineral mining companies, the 2022 US midterm election, and many other topics. Content promoted by the network is consistently aligned with Beijing’s interests.


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