The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said that Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia top the ranking of countries conducting disinformation campaigns on Twitter.
Specialists of the ASPI International Cyber Policy Center have studied the archive of government-supported information operations on Twitter in order to understand the desire, capabilities and goals of states in conducting disinformation campaigns.
Of the 17 countries studied, according to experts, Russia conducts the most information operations, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia and China, and Venezuela closes the top five.
In 9 of the 17 countries studied, information operations peaked in 2019. So, in China, the greatest activity occurred in May, in which 158,611 tweets were published, and in Saudi Arabia – in October (2.3 million tweets). Serbia became the record holder for the number of tweets published as part of information operations in one month – 2.7 million in February 2019.
The volume of data taken for the study exceeded several terabytes, so ASPI specialists took into work only tweets published within 90 days after the publication of the previous tweet. Thus, they managed to highlight the narrative created by the page, because many accounts then began to be used for other purposes or were sold.
As expected, the narratives promoted by the pages were of a geopolitical nature. Russia discussed the United States more than other countries, and the purpose of tweets from Iran (Twitter in Iran is blocked by the government) was to correct international perceptions of the country and expose enemy states in an unfavorable light.
China is also blocking Twitter internally. Most of the tweets in Chinese accounts discussed issues related to Hong Kong and tried to arouse sympathy among Chinese living abroad for the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China.
Although it makes sense to use a comprehensive cross-platform approach in the fight against misinformation on the Internet, focusing efforts specifically on Twitter, and not on platforms more focused on video content, is quite understandable. Currently, it is much easier to spread misinformation in the form of text, since deepfake videos are still very easy to recognize.