Fake social media profiles have been spreading propaganda messages about Cop28 and attacking criticism of its host, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in what experts called an “organised” campaign.
Purporting to be genuine people based in the UAE, scores of individual Twitter accounts publish similar positive content and defend the UAE in replies to posts by campaigners or journalists.
At least a hundred profiles engaged in such behaviour have been identified by Marc Owen Jones, a digital disinformation expert at the Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar.
Twitter suspended a handful of those accounts after Jones publicly exposed them last week. But many others remain active having now transitioned to different personas overnight.
Climate Home News has independently analysed the activities of some of the most active profiles. They were all created in February 2022, using fake profile pictures and unlikely biographies, and display a suspicious pattern of activities.
When taken together, they appear to be engaged in an orchestrated attempt to promote the UAE.
“This is definitely organised”, Marc Owen Jones told Climate Home News. ” The accounts are part of a coordinated network, using the same modus operandi.”
He says the accounts appear to carry out a strategic communication campaign promoting the Cop28, among other UAE policy matters.
“A lot of their efforts go towards damage limitation. Whenever there is negative content about Cop28, they swing into action to try and balance the narrative, muddy the waters,” he added.
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