Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeworldCanada says China-linked 'Spamouflage' campaign targeted lawmakers, PM Trudeau

Canada says China-linked 'Spamouflage' campaign targeted lawmakers, PM Trudeau

Ottawa: The Canadian government said on Monday it detected aChina-linked”Spamouflage”campaignthat involved bots posting disinformation and propaganda on the social media accounts of members of parliament, including Prime Minister JustinTrudeau.

TheSpamouflagecampaign, using networks of new and hijacked social media accounts to post bulk messages, took place in August and September, andtargeteddozens oflawmakersfrom across the political spectrum, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The messages included accusations against thelawmakersof criminal and ethical violations, a claim that Hawaiian wildfires were caused by a secret US military “weather weapon” and deepfake videos.

Thousands of such comments in English and French were posted on thelawmakers’ Facebook and X accounts, and the government worked with the platforms to get the bot networks removed.

“Thiscampaigncould discourage and make it difficult for MPs to carry out their duties and may dissuade MPs and diaspora communities inCanadafrom speaking out on issues which concern them,” said a foreign ministry report about the incident.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy inCanadasaid Beijing has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries. It said the accusations were a “blatant smearcampaign” and thatCanadawas a “downright liar and disseminator of false information”.

“For some time now, the Canadian side has been falsely accusingChinaof spreading false information against Canadian politicians, a move that is in itself a dissemination of false information, in the absence of any direct and substantive evidence,” the embassy statement said, adding thatCanadashould do more to improve and develop bilateral relations.

China-Canadarelations turned icy in late 2018 when Canadian police detained a Chinese telecommunications executive. Shortly after, Beijing arrested two Canadians on spying charges. All three have since been released.

Ottawa has also accused Beijing of trying to interfere in its affairs through various schemes, including illegal police stations and thetargetingoflawmakers.Chinahas strongly denied all such allegations.

In September, theTrudeaugovernment announced an independent public inquiry into allegations of attempted foreign meddling byChina, Russia and others.

(Published 24 October 2023, 04:35 IST)

- Advertisment -

Most Popular