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Trump and Pence say China is hacking the midterms. Facebook and Twitter say they’re wrong.

"Trying to frame what Russia and China are doing as the same thing, that is misinformation”

by David Gilbert
Oct 24 2018, 11:00am

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President Donald Trump insists that China is aggressively interfering in the 2018 midterm elections. It’s a claim that's been echoed by Vice President Mike Pence.

Unfortunately for the White House, Facebook and Twitter officials have found absolutely no evidence of meddling from Beijing, according to a Bloomberg report published Wednesday.

Officials from the social media giants claim the only political meddling campaigns originate from Russia and Iran.

The revelation comes a week after cybersecurity firms FireEye, CrowdStrike and Symantec similarly concluded that China is not trying to influence the November vote.

Trump told the U.N. last month that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election.” That was followed a week later by Pence claiming Russian interference in U.S. elections “pales in comparison” to Chinese meddling.

“There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America’s democracy,” Pence said, characterizing Beijing’s behavior as “an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.”

READ: The U.S. just named the “chief accountant” behind Russia’s election meddling operation

The only evidence cited by the White House is an advertising supplement placed in the Des Moines Register by the Chinese government that criticized the administration’s trade policies.

The administration’s attempts to group China’s efforts with those of Russia is misleading, according to Peter Singer, a military analyst who recently published a book entitled “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”

“[China] is clearly active in traditional cybersecurity hacking of intellectual property and the like, but trying to frame what Russia and China are doing as the same thing, that is misinformation,” Singer told VICE News.

The analyst said the administration’s claims are an attempt at “deflecting discussion of the Russian operation and how it is woven into so many domestic controversies.”

“There is this attempt for a variety of domestic, political reasons to portray them as somehow the same, and it is just bullshit," Singer said.

While there is no evidence of a midterm interference campaign, Chinese hackers have ramped up efforts to conduct cyber espionage and target valuable intellectual property, according to the security firms tracking their activity.

“It’s definitely accelerating. The trend is up,” Dmitri Alperovitch, CEO of Crowdstrike, told McClatchy in June.

Cover image: President Donald Trump (R) and Vice President Mike Pence participate in the swearing-in ceremony for Gina Haspel to be CIA director at agency headquarters, May 21, 2018 in Langley, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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