Huawei Attempts To Rebuild Trust By Using... Fake Twitter Telecom Experts

from the not-helping dept

So we've noted that a lot of the accusations that Huawei spies on Americans on behalf of the US government are lacking in the evidence department. The company's been on the receiving end of a global blocklist based on accusations that have never actually been proven publicly, levied by a country (the United States) with a long, long history of doing exactly what it accuses Huawei of doing. While scrutiny of Chinese gear is certainly warranted, at the same time it's a rather idiotic rabbit hole filled with xenophobic politicians being played by US companies that like to drum up NatSec hysteria for political advantage.

That of course doesn't mean Huawei, like so many telecom giants, isn't a terrible company that routinely makes unethical decisions. Like when the company was busted helping several different African governments to spy on political opponents and journalists. Or when it was shown to be eagerly helping China build facial identification systems to quickly identify Uighur Muslims. Or, more recently, when the company was busted creating entirely fake people in a ham-fisted bid to try and boost its reputation.

Last week, the company was busted for creating at least fourteen different Twitter accounts pretending to be respected telecommunications experts, writers, and assorted academics. Their goal, to cast doubt on Belgian legislation attempting to limit "high risk" vendors from building the nation's 5G networks. The bogus, pro-Huawei accounts used computer generated profile pictures. Their Tweets were then amplified by official, and real, Huawei executives:

"Kevin Liu, Huawei’s president for public affairs and communications in Western Europe, who has a verified Twitter account with 1.1 million followers, shared 60 posts from the fake accounts over three weeks in December, according to Graphika. Huawei’s official account in Europe, with more than five million followers, did so 47 times."

To be clear, creating fake people to generate fake support for various policy proposals certainly isn't unique. US companies do it fairly routinely to generate fake buzz and shape the discourse on social media platforms. Fake people were used to applaud the FCC's repeal of net neutrality at the telecom industry's behest just a few years back. Chinese Pro-Trump media outlet, The Epoch Times, was also busted using bogus people to push conspiracy theories the last few years.

It's quite the blossoming little business sector. One recent report out of Oxford identified 63 examples in which public relations firms were involved in online disinformation operations in 2020 for government or corporate clients. In this case, Twitter took down the fourteen fake accounts immediately after being notified by the New York Times. Graphika, the company that first unearthed the astroturf effort, connected the dots after it noticed that several accounts used in previous campaigns began sharing pro-Huawei arguments and attacking Belgium's regulatory approach.

A common practice or not, it's monumentally idiotic to think that the best way to show you're trustworthy as an international telecom vendor is to create fake people to make your case for you. Then, apparently, assume you were being so clever that nobody would ever discover the charade. But again, much like spying on your own citizens at the behalf of government, it's something companies like AT&T also engage in, which undermines any serious attempt by the US to hold the moral high ground.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: china, fake experts, trust
Companies: huawei

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread

  1. icon
    elinathomas (profile), 8 Feb 2021 @ 3:19am

    Facebook Telefoonnummer

    As a Facebook account holder, it is always important to protect your account from any kind of damage or unknown activity. But how it is possible to do that is the frequently asked question among the users and the simple answer is to change the password. It is always recommended to change a Facebook account password once a month or week to provide reliable protection for your privacy and security. You can easily change your Facebook account password on a variety of devices, including iPhone. ijn-facebook-account-op-de-iphone/

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.