China contracting out social media work to promote government, local culture, economic growth: Report

China is contracting out social media work rather than paying individuals to post and promote the government, local culture, economic growth of the country.

Published: 11th November 2021 01:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2021 01:43 PM   |  A+A-

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China Flag (File Photo | PTI)

By ANI

BEIJING: In a bid to influence operations on social media, China is contracting out social media work rather than paying individuals to post and promote the government, local culture, economic growth of the country.

Jordan Schneider in ChinaTalk said that almost two decades after China began marshalling its "fifty-cent army" to manipulate public conversation on the internet, the players involved in China's online "opinion guidance" have changed, heralding a new era of Chinese influence operations on social media.

As China's internet environment has rapidly evolved one see a change in the ways that local and central government organs are contracting out social media work: rather than paying individuals to post and promote content along with other government duties, local governments are contracting out social media influence work to private internet companies, who take over all of the agency's social media operations for a set period of time.

Jordan Schneider also said that according to an in-depth analysis of hundreds of Chinese public procurement documents, government agencies at all levels are increasingly hiring professional companies to take over their social media management and online discourse work - paying them to post positive stories about the government, local culture, economic growth, or other quasi-political aspects of life in China.

To flesh out a picture of how the government pays private companies to handle its propaganda work on Western social media, the author said that he dug into Chinese government public procurement databases.

"I collected hundreds of procurement announcements related to overseas social media projects posted to local and central government procurement network between 2013 and 2020," Jordan Schneider said in ChinaTalk.

These contracts reflect a growing marketplace in China's internet industry "the privatized propaganda sector. The companies that the Chinese government hires to carry out its propaganda work are a diverse combination of state-owned media giants, technology companies, publishers, videographers, and marketing firms, according to ChinaTalk.

Chinese marketing firm Yiqilian, an official Facebook Marketing Partner, uses Facebook's training and advertising resources to run government propaganda campaigns, according to the weekly analysis.

In a true paradigm shift from the "fifty-cent army" paid-per-post propaganda model, the adoption of "privatised propaganda" will allow for consistent, market-driven innovation - and a constantly shifting toolkit for online influence, it added.



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