Canada Detects Chinese-Linked “Spamouflage” Campaign Targeting Politicians and PM Justin Trudeau.

Campaign Aims to Discredit Canadian MPs, Allegedly to Silence Criticism of Beijing.
24 October, 2023.

In a recent revelation, Canada has uncovered a disinformation campaign believed to be connected to China, which has directly targeted numerous politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This campaign, referred to as “spamouflage,” employed a barrage of online posts with the apparent intent of undermining the credibility of Canadian Members of Parliament. The Canadian foreign ministry has pointed out that the motive behind this campaign was to stifle criticism of Beijing, making it a concerning issue for the nation.

This is not the first instance of Canadian intelligence agencies and officials accusing Beijing of meddling in Canada’s elections. These allegations are the most recent in a series of claims raised by Canadian intelligence agencies and officials over the years.

The “spamouflage” campaign is a sophisticated operation that employs a network of newly created or hijacked social media accounts to disseminate propaganda messages across various platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Medium, Reddit, TikTok, and LinkedIn. The bot network responsible for this campaign may have ties to a larger, well-known “Spamouflage” network that has previously attracted public attention from tech giants like Meta and Microsoft. This network has also been the subject of research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank based in Canberra, which assisted Canada in its own assessments.

Global Affairs Canada reported that its Rapid Response Mechanism identified a “spamouflage” campaign linked to Beijing in August. This campaign gained momentum over the first weekend of September and featured a bot network that inundated the social media accounts of several Canadian politicians with “thousands of comments” in both English and French, the country’s two official languages. These comments alleged that a critic of the Chinese Communist Party in Canada had accused various politicians of criminal and ethical misconduct.

The gravity of these accusations necessitates a comprehensive investigation. It underscores the importance of governments worldwide taking measures to safeguard their democracies against foreign interference. Such measures should encompass enhanced transparency regarding political advertising on social media platforms and reinforced cybersecurity defenses to counter hacking attempts and disinformation campaigns.

As the situation unfolds, Canadian authorities are expected to continue their efforts to unveil the origins and extent of this “spamouflage” campaign. These revelations serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges posed by disinformation and foreign interference in the digital age.






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