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China’s lame Twitter meddling in Hong Kong

19 0 0
24.08.2019

KUALA LUMPUR – Last Monday, Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. disclosed that they had detected and deleted Chinese government-linked social media accounts sowing discord over the recent protests in Hong Kong.

The ominous-sounding announcements drew immediate comparisons to Russian efforts to manipulate the 2016 U.S. presidential election and suggestions that if China chose to operationalize its hidden social media capabilities it “could present a massive change to world politics.”

That’s unlikely. For decades, China has struggled to project its propaganda to foreign countries, whether via traditional media or social media platforms, with poor returns. The newly disclosed campaign is no different. Despite the ominous overtones, it was (as disclosed) small-scale and totally ineffective. Future campaigns, if they occur, aren’t likely to be much better. While vigilance is warranted, paranoia about a Chinese propaganda onslaught is not.

The roots of China’s recent social media campaigns can be traced back to 2013 and the early days of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rule. After years of what it perceived as unfair and biased coverage, the new government called for an “effort to develop overseas publicity and spread China’s voice.” The plan........

© The Japan Times