State Media’s Love Affair With Facebook and Twitter

State Media’s Love Affair With Facebook and Twitter

and being on the far side of the Great Firewall hasn’t stopped major  outlets from operating widely followed English-language accounts on both social networks. At Quartz, Josh Horwitz and Heather Timmons look at a recently launched English series highlighting China-friendly Twitter and Facebook comments to report on the “complicated love affair” between China’s propaganda machine and the two banned American social networks:

Over the past few weeks, Xinhua’s English website has begun running two bizarre new features called “What’s being said on Facebook about China,” and “What’s being said on Twitter about China.”

[…] The emergence of the features highlights the complicated relationship that China’s highly censored, state-run media has with the world’s biggest social networks. Facebook and Twitter are technically banned in China, but hardly unknown to the country’s 640 million internet users.

Collectively, these news highlights are usually about as dull as Xinhua’s own pro-China coverage. Posts are cherry-picked to show how foreign media depicts China as a stable nation, with a competent leadership ready to handle its unique challenges. […]

The features add a little international flair (and sometimes blocked news headlines) to a publication that’s otherwise filled with the stodgy voice of the state.

But Xinhua’s reports on what people are saying on Facebook and Twitter about China also reinforce Xinhua’s own message—the country is powerful, stable and widely-admired. Rather than pretending Facebook and Twitter don’t exist, Chinese state media has become a savvy, yet unconventional, user. [Source]

Chinese government actors may have played a role in orchestrating Twitter-based Chinese-language smear campaigns against government critics and propaganda campaigns favorably portraying life in Tibet.

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