A Twitter user who went by the name "Ultra MAGA BELLA Hot Babe" has been revealed to have been part of a China-based plot to stoke division in American politics ahead of next week's midterm elections.
The user had 26,000 followers with more than 400,000 likes and 180,000 retweets and had previously shared content claiming that former Democratic President Barack Obama was a “lizard person who is a member of the Illuminati.”
The account, which has since been suspended, also shared memes promoting conspiracies about the 2020 general election and hateful rhetoric aimed at transgender people, such as a claim that children with gender dysphoria are being abused by their parents.
The reveal was part of an effort by Twitter that uncovered three China-based operatives pretending to be influencers in American politics. Twitter uncovered the plot just as billionaire Elon Musk—who has railed against Twitter's content moderation policies—acquired the company.
According to The Washington Post, which broke the story, the cache of data released by Twitter unveiled 2,000 users who spread lies about election tampering, attacked members of the transgender community, and promoted pro-China narratives to their American audience.
The report adds:
"The disclosure by Twitter adds to what is known about China-based efforts to influence American audiences by mimicking the strategies Russia-based operatives used to stoke cultural and political tensions during the 2016 election."
"In September, Meta announced it had disrupted a China-based operation seeking to influence U.S. politics."
"The U.S. government also has issued warnings about Chinese influence efforts, as have a spate of reports from cybersecurity firms including Google’s Mandiant, Recorded Future and Alethea Group."
The news did not surprise many who have continued to criticize ongoing disinformation efforts by foreign governments.
The Washington Post's report goes on to note that Twitter "also took down three networks that were based in Iran but often claimed to be based in the United States or Israel" and that at least one of these accounts "endorsed candidates even in local races."
Despite dismantling three disinformation networks altogether, Twitter has not "attributed the activity to any specific governments." Twitter discovered "technical signals" that indicated many of these accounts were based in China despite purporting to be based within the United States.