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China United States Politics

China Spreads Propaganda to U.S. on Facebook, a Platform it Bans at Home (nytimes.com) 103

Paul Mozur, reporting for the New York Times: China does not allow its people to gain access to Facebook, a powerful tool for disseminating information and influencing opinion. As if to demonstrate the platform's effectiveness, outside its borders China uses it to spread state-produced propaganda around the world, including the United States (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). So much do China's government and companies value Facebook that the country is Facebook's biggest advertising market in Asia, even as it is the only major country in the region that blocks the social network. A look at the Facebook pages of China Central Television, the leading state-owned broadcast network better known as CCTV, and Xinhua, China's official news agency, reveals hundreds of English-language posts intended for an English-speaking audience. Each quarter China's government, through its state media agencies, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy Facebook ads, according to a person with knowledge of those deals, who was unauthorized to talk publicly about the company's revenue streams. China's propaganda efforts are in the spotlight with President Trump visiting the country and American lawmakers investigating foreign powers's use of technology to sway voters in the United States.

China Spreads Propaganda to U.S. on Facebook, a Platform it Bans at Home

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  • Shocked! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @01:48PM (#55514799)

    Come on people. That foreign adversaries would try to further their agendas using social networks is about a surprising as gambling in a Casablanca.

    I bet even "friendly" nations are doing this to some extent too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Also, is it any wonder that China blocks Facebook? This is why! China doesn't want to deal with foreign interference any more than anyone else does. So they block the channels that interference uses to propagate itself.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You obviously are not aware of how Communist government works. First of all, it is a dictatorship. They call it that way themselves: "dictatorship of proletariat". No other party is allowed to exist. They rely on mind control for their existence (look at what happened at Russia after Gorbachev relaxed the regime). Censorship is the moving force in the country. Dissidents are being executed by a firing squad.
        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          You obviously are not aware of how Communist government works. First of all, it is a dictatorship. They call it that way themselves: "dictatorship of proletariat". No other party is allowed to exist. They rely on mind control for their existence (look at what happened at Russia after Gorbachev relaxed the regime).

          The smart communist/dictatorial governments actually allow opposition parties to exist, they just severely neuter them. This preserves the appearance of democracy and participation and allows for an (exceptionally easy to monitor and control) outlet for dissent. When you combine requiring government approval for candidates on the ballots with the classic "the ballots don't make the votes, the counters do"(one of the best lines in Gangs of New York), control by the ruling party is still completely safe.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Remember, FEC versus Citizens United effectively allowed bribery, because money is equivalent to free speech. It is no wonder why countries are legally paying for ads to change voter turnouts.

      To boot, FB is doing nothing illegal. They could be showing Daesh videos of people being barbecued and eaten alive, but there is nothing that can be done, as Daesh's money counts as free speech.

      • Re:Shocked! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @02:25PM (#55515059)

        I would rather have foreign government propaganda than have American government censorship.

        Let's not forget that the major influence of the Russians on the American presidential election was their leaking of Hillary's collusion with the DNC ... which was the truth.

        Sure, Hillary might have won if the DNC collusion had remained secret ... but she also might have won if she had been more ethical and there had been no dirt to leak.

        • I would rather have foreign government propaganda than have American government censorship.

          That's insane; next you're going to say that you'd rather have liberty over security...

        • I would rather have foreign government propaganda than have American government censorship.

          Those two aren't even related. The most the American government has done is asked that people who purchase ads be identified. And that sound perfectly fair.

          But, beyond that, the US government does have a point of view. And the POV should be expressed.

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          Let's not forget that the major influence of the Russians on the American presidential election was their leaking of Hillary's collusion with the DNC ... which was the truth.

          The issue (which a lot on the right gloss over and ignore-note that I am not necessarily calling you right wing) was not that they leaked false information about a candidate (Clinton deserved the hit that came with that leak). The issue is the asymmetrical release of information. It's quite possible that the Russians had dirt on both and released the info to hurt Clinton and held on to Trump info to influence him. That is the concern. And while it may not have happened this time, it sets a dangerous pre

          • Re:Shocked! (Score:5, Informative)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:22PM (#55516017)

            That is a silly argument. Should we have censored Watergate reporting because it only hurt one side? Should Woodward and Bernstein have been required to wait until they had some counterbalancing dirt on the Democrats?

            The Constitution says "no law" abridging free speech. It doesn't make an exception for "unbalanced" speech, nor does it make an exception for censorship of foreigners.

          • Re:Shocked! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @05:30PM (#55516053)

            The issue (which a lot on the right gloss over and ignore-note that I am not necessarily calling you right wing)

            I did not vote for Trump, and I oppose pretty much everything he stands for. I am not defending Trump at all, I am defending the Constitution and the principle of freedom of expression. It is sad that so many people feel that is "right wing".

          • What asymmetry of dirt... Trump's corruption, race baiting, unethical business practices, lack of intelligence, pathological narcissism, bragging about sexual assault, etc were all open uncontested facts. Indeed he basically bragged about how terrible he was. What would have brought symmetry with Clinton? What could anyone have possibly had that would have made anyone change their mind who hadn't already seen what was going on? These were the two worst candidates in living memory, neither suffered for lack
        • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

          I would rather have foreign government propaganda than have American government censorship.

          Let's not forget that the major influence of the Russians on the American presidential election was their leaking of Hillary's collusion with the DNC ... which was the truth.

          Sure, Hillary might have won if the DNC collusion had remained secret ... but she also might have won if she had been more ethical and there had been no dirt to leak.

          Was there really collusion between the DNC and Clinton? Or was foreign influence involved to make it look that way?

          Does Putin really have Trump over a barrel for peeing on a bed with prostitutes in Russia? Or is it all just fake news?

          Good thing we got a honest and respectful president in the White House after all that! I would have hated to just get someone who wanted to grab the world by the pussy!

          • You can always tell someone doesn't have much to say when they start lamenting the president out of the blue in an unrelated thread.
      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        They could be showing Daesh videos of people being barbecued and eaten alive...

        The trick to eating somebody alive is to barbecue them very lightly.

    • Re:Shocked! (Score:5, Informative)

      by anegg ( 1390659 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @02:22PM (#55515031)
      I would be *amazed* if the USA is not trying to further the US agenda (whatever that is) using social networks targeted at/in other countries. Is there much difference between Voice of America and such a practice?
      • I'm not saying "This is immoral, therefore China is bad." I'm saying "This is a (propaganda) fight between two sides. China is on the other one, therefore it's bad."

        It's similar to how I'll root for the military forces of my country in a war against another one, even if both sides are using the same tactics I disagree with.

      • by anegg ( 1390659 )

        Upon reflection, one difference between Voice of America and the use of social media is obvious. A radio station like Voice of America is operated by a known entity, and the entity's bias can be judged along with the content of the messages. Social media postings may originate from unknown entities, making the entity's bias opaque and difficult to judge along with the message content.

        I doubt, however, that there is a blanket refusal by the USA (or other state actors) to use social media targeted at forei

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The real surprise to all of this is that OUR politicians were the last ones to figure this out. Apparently it is money well spent, as compared to the billion dollars each one sinks for a presidential campaign for who knows what.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What is weird is that the USA population is buying into it. Russia is united. China is united. Mexico is united. The United States is completely divided along lines of left and right, black and white. When you want to conquer a country set its population against itself. The Europeans did this very effectively in the Americas, and used old tribal animosities to keep the natives fighting among themselves and not joining forces against the 'White Eyes'. Yet the population of the USA has completely miss

      • The United States is very big, and throughout its history it has contained many different subcultures and social mores. Utah isn't anything like New York, and rural areas aren't anything like metropolitan areas. Yet these people must coexist within the same body. The only cultural thing that really matters in the US the respect for another's right to think and express themselves freely. Your neighbor's God, sports preference, favorite foods, marriage status, or politics is not a matter of national security.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Your sig is so fucking stupid it gave me cancer. "When Fascism comes to American". Jesus. Give up.
  • They even got "Weird Al" Yankovic. [wikipedia.org]

  • Surely there must be something in The Art of War about using your opponents own weapons against them....
    • Surely there must be something in The Art of War about using your opponents own weapons against them....

      Master Sun did indeed say one of the most important strategic possessions is information, and you should strive both to have accurate information for yourself and provide inaccurate information to your opponent.

    • "When you are strong, feign weakness; when you are weak, feign strength" was always one of my favorites

    • by Gryle ( 933382 )
      It's been a while since I read Sun Tzu, but this seems appropriate: "Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence. Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
  • I'm getting tired of being treated not as a complete human being but as an object that does thing.
  • and other countries. Don't kid yourself, if your country does it, other countries will return the favor. Stop trying to play the victim, it's not working.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hell about everything could be considered propaganda.

  • I have some ass troll running around lying about china's actions while trying to knock me down. I am guessing that he is from China, since he does not give a shit about anything else.

    Basically, China and Russia have been using the internet and traitors like Trump against America. Even now, Trump CORRECTLY pointed out how bad China was WRT to economics, and then he turned after his family got what they wanted.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2017 @06:23PM (#55516329) Homepage Journal
    Of course China bans Facebook. Do you know how much propaganda is on that thing? You'd have to be an idiot to let all that shit into your country!
  • I once found what appeared to be a genuine DPRK propaganda facebook page. Almost everyone that was subscribed was there to laugh at it and throw tomatoes.

    Eventually I unsubscribed. I couldn't shake the feeling that liking the page was signing me up for additional review by some NSA watchlist.

  • I was born chinese, and like vast majority of the world, I don't like china or its people. Because they choose to be evil, anti-universal values, anti-moral, anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-truth. I worked very hard to emigrate to america, and I see china's economic collapse has already begun, in addition to many very serious social disasters.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach

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