Free Tibet, a London-based advocacy organization, has identified at least 100 fake Twitter accounts that were likely commissioned by Beijing to spread pro-Chinese propaganda in the West.
Curious about the people who were most prolifically tweeting pro-Chinese political messages, Free Tibet discovered they were fictitious personae created out of appealing photographs plucked from the Internet. @Tomhugo148, for example, used the photograph of a Brazilian underwear model. @Alayna Newark used the photograph of a Canadian actress.
The others were a grab bag of photographs of actresses, a New Zealand radio hostess and a handful of American high school students whose images were apparently taken from a commercial photography website.
Not only were the fake identities unusually good-looking, many of them had two first names, such as Tom Hugo, Ken Peters and Felix James, as though they were randomly chosen by a computer program. Some also had YouTube and MySpace accounts. They listed one another as followers, retweeting each other. One tweet criticizing the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, was retweeted 6,555 times.
If you have anyone in your timeline bashing Japan over ownership of the unihabited Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands, now you know why!