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Pentagon ran secret anti-vaccine propaganda campaign – Reuters

Hundreds of fake social media accounts linked to the US military were reportedly used to spread fear about the Chinese jab in Asia

The US military staged an undercover social media campaign at the height of the pandemic to smear the Chinese Covid vaccine, Reuters has reported.

The Pentagon’s campaign to disparage the Chinese vaccine ran between the spring of 2020 and mid-2021, focusing on the Philippines before spreading to other parts of Asia and the Middle East, the agency claimed in an article on Friday.

It relied on fake social media accounts impersonating Filipino users to disseminate claims that China’s Sinovac vaccine, as well test kits and face masks produced by the country, was of poor quality.

Sinovac, which began being rolled out in March 2021, became the first jab available to the Philippines during the pandemic.

“COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!” a typical post as part of the campaign, which centered on the #ChinaAngVirus (China is the virus) slogan, read, according to Reuters. Another commonly encountered post claimed: “From China – PPE, Face Mask, Vaccine: FAKE. But the Coronavirus is real.” 

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Furthermore, the Pentagon tried to convey to Muslim users in Asia and the Middle East that due to the fact that vaccines sometimes contain pork gelatin, China’s jab should be forbidden under Islamic law, the report read.

Reuters said that its investigation found at least 300 accounts on Twitter, which had since been re-branded as X, that matched the descriptions provided by the former US military officials who told journalists about the campaign.

The agency said that it had contacted X about the accounts and that the Elon Musk-owned platform had determined – based on activity patterns and internal data – that the profiles in question were part of a coordinated bot campaign. The accounts have been deleted, it added.

A senior US Defense Department official confirmed to Reuters that a clandestine social media campaign against Sinovac did take place, but declined to reveal further details.

A Pentagon spokesperson told the agency that the US military “uses a variety of platforms, including social media, to counter those malign influence attacks aimed at the US, allies, and partners.” Beijing was the one to start a “disinformation campaign to falsely blame the US for the spread of COVID-19,” she claimed.

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The Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed in an e-mailed response that Beijing has long maintained that the US government manipulates social media and spreads disinformation.

June 15, 2024 at 04:56PM

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