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Chinese company develops product ‘manipulation of public opinion’; Details Leakage online in sales document

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The front cover of a leaked sales document for an online opinion manipulation system

A Shanghai-based technology company with business ties to the Chinese government is suspected of developing a system to manipulate public opinion through X social media accounts, it has been learned.

An apparent sales document introducing the system is available online and was obtained by Japanese intelligence. Believing the document to be genuine, the agency analyzed it and carefully investigated its relationship to Chinese activities to manipulate foreign public opinion.

The approximately twenty-page document leaked onto the Internet and is said to be owned by a technology company called I-Soon. The document was uploaded in mid-February to GitHub, an online information-sharing platform for information technology engineers, along with about 580 other files believed to be internal company documents.

The document obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun has a front cover with the title in Chinese: “Product Introduction Document for a Twitter Opinion Manipulation and Control System.” The cover also states that the document is the first edition, released in 2022.

According to the document, the purpose of the system is to monitor and manipulate public opinion outside China. The document states at the beginning: “We have developed a system to address the need to detect adverse critical opinions” and “To ensure the stability of society, it is crucial that public security authorities checking opinion.”

According to the document and other sources, the system allows its users to hijack other people’s X accounts by sending them a fraudulent URL and tricking them into clicking the link. As a result, users can access direct messages that are supposed to be private and post opinions in accordance with the policies of the Chinese authorities, without being noticed by the owners of the hijacked accounts.

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