Pakistan trying to revive the crumbling CPEC using fake handles!

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a group of infrastructure development projects initiated by China in Pakistan. This massive infrastructure development project was initiated in the year 2015. Ij-Reportika covered how China’s investment in Pakistan is at risk of failure due to 

  • The Failing Economy of Pakistan
  • Power Projects facing the risk of defaults
  • The cultural, linguistic, and religious barriers &
  • Deadly attacks on Chinese natives in Pakistan

CPEC has once again gained the limelight. We investigated that massive propaganda campaigns are persuading people about the umpteen benefits of the CPEC project. Chinese and Pakistani handles from Pakistan were behind this mammoth misinformation campaign

There is an attempt to show that the lives of common Pakistanis citizens would change overnight with China’s multi-billionaire project. 

The orchestrated campaign

The orchestrated campaign commenced on October 5th, when @AedSajid first tweeted the hashtag #CPECToReducePoverty at UTC 13:35:12+00:00 after which there was no looking back. 

The first tweet to start the campaign

A close look through Aed Sajid’ account will accentuate his labor towards the hashtag as the account keeps tweeting every 2nd minute. Though the account is created in July 2022 but the first tweet traced is of August 27th.

Timeline to show that propaganda handles tweeted after every 2 minutes praising the CPEC

A total of 416 handles participated and contributed to sprout the hashtag which consequently managed to tweet 6411 tweets including quote retweets and replies until October 7th.

The hashtag managed to reach 2.6 million all by the efforts of the fake Pakistani accounts who managed to create their handles at the 11th hour so as to put across the surplus turnout the project is reaping to Pakistanis particularly to Baloch

Not to our surprise, the majority of the accounts were created between September-October implying the systematic orchestration of the forged campaign.

Fake accounts tweeting about the benefits of CPEC created in October

Along with the #CPECToReducePoverty the other two hashtags which were used were: #PeacefulPakistan and #CPEC.

No data, no facts, only assumptions to highlight the benefits of CPEC along with hashtag #PeacefulPakistan.
Hashtags trended along with #CPECToReducePoverty

The hashtag in total covered not just the benefits which CPEC has bestowed upon the locals but also how specifically it is a harbinger of all things good including employment generation, sky-rocketing FDI and unprecedented growth and prosperity.

Scrutinizing the tweets, it is evident that majority of the tweets were scheduled at the same time.

Scheduled tweets on Twitter

An hourly report of the hashtag helps us understand better the gravity and the urgency on the part of Pakistani handles in which they were to widespread the propaganda.

What’s derogatory was that the accounts used pictures of young women from across the internet to fulfil their vile agenda. For instance, account named Faiza Rauf (@FaizaRauf10) has used the image of a woman in hijab from Pinterest. The frenzy was also visible from the fact that the accounts took cover of Baloch and Pashtun identity to convey the godliness of China’s endowment.

Use of fake images from Pinterest in fake accounts

The account of Faiza Rauf (@FaizaRauf10) used the image of another woman in 2021 straight away implying the fact that the account is fake.

On October 7th, the hashtag gained its peak with 2.55 million total views across all social media platforms. The same day when even the official handle of CPEC (@CPEC_Official) posted 10 tweets on Pakistan-China affinity. This indicates that Chinese propaganda machinery was also indulged in this campaign!!

CPEC and fake profiles masquerading as international handles

@Gwadar_Pro is a China-Pakistan agricultural and industrial Twitter platform. It also runs misinformation campaigns to whitewash the image of CPEC. This page is followed by several fake handles that escalated the orchestrated campaigns.

While studying the account, Ij-reportika came to know that over 19,120 followers of @Gwadar_Pro are fake, which makes up over 38% of the total followers. Moreover, the majority of the followers are from Pakistan followed by Saudi Arab, Turkey, Egypt and India.

These followers/amplifiers of @Gwadar_Pro all have following things in common:

  • They put foreign names and profile pictures to run their agendas.
  • They all promote Pak Government and Pak Army and the relationship of China, Pakistan and Russia.
  • They keep changing their user names, profile pictures and wiping off their old tweets to start fresh.
  • These fake accounts have many fake followers who further escalate the narrative.
  • Most of these accounts have mentioned themselves as “Travel Journalists”.
Fake profiles masquerading as international handles (Credits: Dfrac)

These fake accounts have a number of fake followers to amplify the campaigns to support CPEC.

Fake accounts with fake followers supporting Imran Khan
Fake account makeover

In this exclusive report, Ij-Reportika has exposed some fake handles which were running misinformation campaigns for the revival of dying CPEC, deliberately trying to mislead people. Investigative Journalism Reportika urges Twitter and other widely popular social media platforms to filter out such profiles and let social media platforms remain Free, Authentic, and Independent!!  


Sources:


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