Pro-China Twitter Accounts Flood Hashtag Critical of Beijing Winter Olympics
By Georgia Wells and Liza Lin
08 February 2022
Pro-China accounts have been flooding Twitter with messages that include the hashtag #GenocideGames, in what researchers say is an effort to dilute the hashtag’s power to galvanize criticism of the Winter Olympics host nation.
Human-rights advocates and Western lawmakers have used the #GenocideGames hashtag to raise awareness about Xinjiang, a region in northwestern China where authorities have conducted forcible assimilation efforts against religious minorities, including Uyghur Muslims. Xinjiang has become a focal point for critics of China’s policies ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which began last week.
China’s cabinet, the State Council and the Cyberspace Administration of China didn’t respond to requests for comment on the hashtag flooding and the origin of such accounts.
In a campaign that began in late October, the largely automated accounts are posting spam-like notes that Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren, professors at Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub, say appear intended to make the hashtag harder for activists to mobilize around.
Such a tactic, known as hashtag flooding, typically aims to dilute the effectiveness of a popular hashtag so that other Twitter users searching the term see swarms of unrelated content mixed in with announcements for coming protests or calls for other organized action.