“The Government of Canada maintains the strength and resilience of Canada’s democratic institutions through vigilance, including by monitoring the digital information environment for threats, such as foreign interference.
“Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC) Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) Canada has detected a ‘Spamouflage’ campaign connected to the People’s Republic of China. Beginning in early August 2023 and accelerating in scale over the September long-weekend, a bot network left thousands of comments in English and French on the Facebook and X/Twitter accounts of Canadian Members of Parliaments (MPs).
“This campaign targeted dozens of MPs from across the political spectrum and spanning multiple geographic regions of Canada, including the Prime Minister, the leader of the Official Opposition, and several members of Cabinet.
“All parliamentarians have been made aware of this campaign and have been provided with advice from the Rapid Response Mechanism on how to protect themselves from foreign interference as well as information on how to report suspected foreign interference activity.
“Parliamentarians affected by this “Spamouflage” campaign have been offered a briefing by the Rapid Response Mechanism on the findings of the report. It has also been made clear to them that nothing observed in this activity represents a threat to their safety, or that of their family.
“These spam comments claimed that a critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Canada had accused the various MPs of criminal and ethical violations. The Spamouflage campaign also included the use of likely “deepfake” videos, which are digitally modified by artificial intelligence, targeting the individual.
“Spamouflage is a tactic that uses networks of new or hijacked social media accounts to post and amplify propaganda messages across multiple platforms. RRM Canada’s analysis suggests that the bot-network could be part of the well-known Spamouflage network which has been publicly reported on by technology companies (such as Meta and Microsoft) and threat intelligence experts (such as Graphika), who have connected the activity to China.
“This tactic has also been studied and publicly reported on by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which informed RRM Canada’s assessments.
“Global Affairs Canada has proactively engaged the affected platforms, and notified them about the Spamouflage activity, resulting in much of the activity and network being removed.
“RRM Canada assesses the goal of this operation was likely to:
- Discredit and denigrate the targeted MPs through seemingly organic posts, alleging impropriety, by posting waves of social media posts and videos that called into question the political and ethical standards of the MPs, using a popular Chinese-speaking figure in Canada; and
- Silence criticism of the CCP by getting MPs to distance themselves from the critic and discouraging wider online communities from engaging with them.
“Democracies rely on access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information. Disinformation undermines free speech, hinders open public debate and erodes trust in democracy. Located at GAC, and established at the 2018 G7 Summit in Charlevoix, RRM Canada leads the G7 RRM and supports Canada’s efforts to counter foreign state-sponsored disinformation. To provide transparency and accountability to Canadians, RRM Canada is an important mechanism that monitors the digital information environment for foreign state-sponsored disinformation and provides open source data analytics about threats to democracy.
“The Government of Canada will continue to uphold the strength and resilience of our democratic institutions by monitoring the information environment and shining light on threats against democracy.”
Source : Mirage News