The Canadian government has announced the discovery of a campaign connected to China, in which bots posted false information and propaganda as comments on the social media pages of government officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Canadian foreign ministry announced that a campaign known as “spamouflage” occurred in August and September. This campaign involved the use of new and compromised social media accounts to post large numbers of messages. The targets of this campaign were multiple politicians from various political parties.
The notifications contained allegations of criminal and ethical misconduct by the legislators, an assertion that the Hawaii wildfires were triggered by a covert US military “weather weapon”, and manipulated videos.
Numerous comments in both English and French were shared on the legislators’ Facebook and X accounts, and the authorities collaborated with the platforms to eliminate the automated bot networks.
According to a report from the foreign ministry, this campaign may hinder and create challenges for MPs in fulfilling their responsibilities and could discourage both MPs and Canadian diaspora communities from voicing their concerns on relevant matters.
The Chinese embassy in Canada stated that Beijing has never meddled in the domestic affairs of other nations and the allegations are a clear attempt to defame them.
In late 2018, relations between China and Canada became strained when Canadian authorities apprehended a Chinese telecom executive. In response, Beijing detained two Canadians on accusations of espionage. However, all three individuals have since been released.
The city of Ottawa has also made allegations against Beijing, claiming that they have been attempting to interfere in their internal matters through various tactics, such as the establishment of illegal police stations and targeting of lawmakers. China has refuted these accusations.
In September, the Trudeau administration declared a separate investigation by the public into claims of potential interference from China, Russia, and other foreign entities.