Razkrivamo

China is utilizing bots on social media to influence opinions about Xinjiang

The use of strategic data sources, such as public opinion mining of social media platforms headquartered in the United States, to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) capacity for influence and interference, should be stopped by governments. In order to thwart and prevent harmful CCP activity, governments, members of civil society, think tanks, and social media users should develop countermeasures and reactions to CCP information operations and propaganda efforts that centre on the discourse on human rights. 

25.08.2022 20:00
Piše: Valerio Fabbri
Ključne besede:   Xinjiang   China   social media   twitter   Facebook   Beijing

Chinese officials and state media outlets are using social media to promote false information and influence public opinion in order to deflect attention from the human rights violations in Xinjiang.

According to several reports, technology is being used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to impose transnational digital repression and sway uninformed audiences outside of Chinese borders. In order to disprove, divert attention from, and prevent disclosures of accusations of human rights abuses, such as the arbitrary arrest, mass sterilisation, and cultural degradation of minorities in the province of Xinjiang, the party has deployed increasingly sophisticated internet strategies. The CCP is responding to criticisms of its recent actions against human rights by coordinating its state propaganda apparatus, security agencies, and public relations industry to silence and shape Xinjiang narratives at home and abroad, rather than improving its treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.

 

Exploiting social media and publishing platforms with a United States presence is at the heart of the CCP's activities. CCP covert and coercive campaigns that impose costs and seek to restrain international entities — be they states, corporations, or individuals — from making fact- based criticisms of the party-record state's on human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and other delicate issues support their online public diplomacy efforts. According to a recent investigation, Chinese officials and state media outlets are using social media to promote false information and influence public opinion in order to deflect attention from the human rights violations occurring in Xinjiang.

 

The Chinese diplomats and state media have been "using increasingly sophisticated online tactics" to deny the human rights violations committed in Xinjiang, the home of the Muslim Uyghur minority, according to a report published on July 20. Between January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2022, more than 613.000 Facebook posts and 6.78 million tweets and retweets mentioning "Xinjiang" were examined for the paper, "Assessing the impact of CCP communication operations connected to Xinjiang".

 

CCP state media and diplomats posted 60.3 percent of the top 400 most interactive Facebook posts (including comments and shares); of the top 1,000 most interactive tweets (including likes and retweets), 5.5 percent came from CCP state media and diplomats, and 4 percent came from accounts that Twitter has suspended for platform manipulation.

 

 

"The highest leadership of Chinese Communist Party views information and misinformation as crucial to geopolitical competitiveness and swaying global opinion."

 

According to the research, the CCP's highest leadership views information and misinformation as crucial to geopolitical competitiveness and swaying global opinion. Additionally, between January 1, 2021, and January 1, 2022, 494,710 articles in more than 65 languages that mentioned Xinjiang were examined by the researchers. The majority (55%) of publications were in Chinese or English (35 percent). The national policies and practises of the communist leadership in Xinjiang were more frequently praised in Chinese-language writings. In recent years, the CCP has mass spied on, imprisoned, and "re-educated" Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang under the guise of battling instability and counterterrorism.

 

The charge of "genocide" in Xinjiang has never been accepted by Beijing. The savage persecution of Uyghurs in large-scale detention camps, including the killing of fugitives, was, however, made public by leaked Xinjiang Police documents in May. The study also warns that the dictatorship would work with diaspora organisations to sway opinions about Xinjiang throughout the world, despite the fact that social media companies are progressively eliminating phoney accounts tied to covert CCP influence operations. The report's co-author contends that the worldwide difficulties raised by the CCP's communication campaign are not well recognised globally and have not been appropriately addressed.

 

Governments must take the initiative in formulating this strategy in collaboration with friends and partners that have similar interests, according to Zhang. "Economic sanctions regimes that target those who commit serious human rights abuses and violations should be expanded to include those who disseminate false information and foreign propaganda that silences and intimidates survivors of human rights abuses and those who continue to abuse those individuals." the UN Human Rights Council stated in a statement.

 

The use of strategic data sources, such as public opinion mining of social media platforms headquartered in the US, to strengthen the party's capacity for influence and interference, should be stopped by governments. In order to thwart and prevent harmful CCP activity, governments, members of civil society, think tanks, and social media users should develop countermeasures and reactions to CCP information operations and propaganda efforts that centre on the discourse on human rights. In a subsequent report titled #StopXinjiangRumors: The CCP's decentralised disinformation campaign, published in late 2021, it was discovered that the CCP was attempting to sway public opinion about its Xinjiang policies by disseminating videos of Uyghurs expressing satisfaction with their way of life there. In an effort to justify activities, CCP policies in the region "are presented as counterterrorism responses, while negative information and testimony of abuse are either suppressed or not published", the authors said.

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