Authoritarian regimes go big on propaganda. Communist regimes in particular spend a lot of time perfecting their propaganda machine and will use it at every turn. China is deploying bots and fake accounts to push its own vision of the Olympics. Steven Lee Myers and Paul Mozur, The New York Times, and Jeff Kao, ProPublica explore how this is happening. Here is an excerpt:
Inside the Potemkin village of China’s propaganda, the Winter Olympics have unfolded as an unalloyed success, a celebration of sports and political harmony that has obscured — critics say whitewashed — the country’s flaws and rights abuses.
At Beijing 2022, the hills are snowy, not brown as usual this time of year. A Uyghur skier is the symbol of national unity, the tennis player Peng Shuai just a curious spectator. Athletes and foreign journalists praise the polite volunteers and marvel at the high-speed trains and the robots that boil dumplings and mix drinks.
While China’s control of what its domestic viewers and readers consume is well established, the country has spread its own version of the Games beyond its borders, with an arsenal of digital tools that are giving China’s narrative arguably greater reach and subtlety than ever before.
Continue reading in Propublica here.