Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pentagon Ran Secret Anti-Vax Campaign to Undermine China During Pandemic Pentagon Defends Anti-Vaccine Disinformation Program in the Philippines, and other C-Virus related stories

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Pentagon ran secret anti-vax campaign to undermine China during pandemic
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus.
The clandestine operation has not been previously reported. It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found. Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign. Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation.
Reuters identified at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former U.S. military officials familiar with the Philippines operation. Almost all were created in the summer of 2020 and centered on the slogan #Chinaangvirus – Tagalog for China is the virus.
"COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!" one typical tweet from July 2020 read in Tagalog. The words were next to a photo of a syringe beside a Chinese flag and a soaring chart of infections. Another post read: "From China – PPE, Face Mask, Vaccine: FAKE. But the Coronavirus is real."
After Reuters asked X about the accounts, the social media company removed the profiles, determining they were part of a coordinated bot campaign based on activity patterns and internal data.
The U.S. military’s anti-vax effort began in the spring of 2020 and expanded beyond Southeast Asia before it was terminated in mid-2021, Reuters determined. Tailoring the propaganda campaign to local audiences across Central Asia and the Middle East, the Pentagon used a combination of fake social media accounts on multiple platforms to spread fear of China’s vaccines among Muslims at a time when the virus was killing tens of thousands of people each day. A key part of the strategy: amplify the disputed contention that, because vaccines sometimes contain pork gelatin, China’s shots could be considered forbidden under Islamic law. --->READ MORE HERE
Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images
Pentagon defends anti-vaccine disinformation program in the Philippines:
The military set up hundreds of fake social media accounts that sowed doubt about Chinese efforts to fight COVID-19 in the country
The Department of Defense is standing by a major disinformation campaign it led that worked to spread doubt and fears of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines in 2020, following the revelation of the program.
The discovery comes from a major report by Reuters. The investigation, published on June 14, is the first report on the secret program. According to Reuters’ reporting, the military set up hundreds fake social media accounts, spreading messages in Tagalog to the Filipino community that spread doubt on the effectiveness of protective measures and warned against any help from China.
“COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!” one post on X, formerly Twitter, said in Tagalog in July 2020. One common hashtag used with these posts was #Chinaangvirus, which translates to English as “China is the virus.”
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the military launched its effort in the Philippines, creating the more than 300 accounts on social media. The country that has suffered heavily from the pandemic, with more than 4 million reported cases and tens of thousands of deaths from the virus. These fake accounts amassed thousands of followers and as 2020 continued, became specifically focused on anti-vaccination messages. That in particular was focused on the Chinese-produced Sinovac vaccine.
The program started under former President Donald Trump and continued into the early months of President Joe Biden’s administration.
The Department of Defense does not deny the Reuters report. Lisa Lawrence, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, said in a statement to Task & Purpose that the department conducts operations in the “information environment” to “counter adversary malign influence.”
“Several state and non-state actors use social media platforms and other media to spread disinformation and conduct malign influence campaigns against the United States. The DoD uses a variety of platforms, including social media, to counter those malign influence attacks aimed at the U.S., allies, and partners,” Lawrence’s statement continued. “As it relates to COVID-19 disinformation, China [in 2020] initiated a disinformation campaign to falsely blame the United States for the spread of COVID-19.”
Notably the statement does not name the Philippines, or address public health concerns stemming from the pandemic and the disinformation campaign. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

A Pentagon-approved bot attack attempted to thwart global COVID-19 vaccinations, report finds

Pentagon Launched Secret Anti-Vax Campaign To Discredit China During COVID Pandemic, Report Says

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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