The ruling Communist Party in China will do just about anything to snuff out speech or news it doesn’t like. Lately, that includes spamming Twitter with porn to hide information about the ongoing protests in that country.

According to a China-focused data analyst, there has been a dramatic increase of spam accounts tweeting relentlessly since last week. The suspected bot accounts appear to be linked to the Chinese government and have one goal: crowd out and hide information about the ongoing protests in China.

According to the analyst, @AirMovingDevice, if someone searches for a protest hot spot in Chinese, they’ll see a stream of porn, escort services, gambling content and seemingly random word and sentence fragments.

The uptick in apparent bot activity has coincided with wide scale protests in China, and comes on the heels of a deadly apartment fire in Xinjiang where 10 people died. Fire crews couldn’t put out the fire quickly because China’s harsh COVID-19 restrictions prevented access to the building.

Twitter is officially blocked in China, but some people still have access to the site through the use of virtual private networks. However, VPNs are disappearing from app stores in China as well.

New Twitter CEO Elon Musk almost walked away from buying the social media company over concerns about bot activity on the site. However, about a week after taking over, Musk fired half of Twitter’s staff. The layoffs included the team responsible for taking down propaganda from bad actors.

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