Thursday, 5 August 2021

Fake Network Failure

The BBC has a piece on what is supposedly a fake network pushing pro-Chinese propaganda.

A sprawling network of more than 350 fake social media profiles is pushing pro-China narratives and attempting to discredit those seen as opponents of China's government, according to a new study.

The aim is to delegitimise the West and boost China's influence and image overseas, the report by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) suggests.

The study, shared with the BBC, found that the network of fake profiles circulated garish cartoons depicting, among others, exiled Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of China.

Other controversial figures featured in the cartoons included "whistleblower" scientist Li-Meng Yan, and Steve Bannon, former political strategist for Donald Trump.

Each of these individuals has themselves been accused of spreading disinformation, including false information about Covid-19.

Yet China cannot be said to have a positive global image. From Covid-19 to the plight of the Uyghurs to pervasive internet censorship and spying on its own citizens, the image is not a rosy one. That 'sprawling network' is not an effective sprawling network.

How about the sprawling bureaucracy that is the BBC? Maybe one point of running the piece is not to warn us about fake Chinese networks but to distance the BBC from propaganda generally. Look at what goes on in that unregulated internet. We aren't like that. 

However, at the end of the piece we are offered some possible reasons why Chinese propaganda may be ineffective anyway.

With more than one billion internet users, China certainly has the capability to orchestrate large-scale social media campaigns, and target what it sees as anti-China voices with a wealth of opposing opinions.

But with English-language skills limited in China, there are often clumsy tell-tale signs that a Chinese troll is behind such accounts. Many rely on automatic translation software to turn Chinese messages into English, meaning such messages are riddled with typos, or contain clumsy grammatical structures.

And with many Western outlets inaccessible to them within China, users generally have very little knowledge of who they are meant to be targeting, so they simply piggyback off the replies of others from within the same network.


Sam Vega said...

If China wants to disseminate anti-western propaganda, it would do better to fund the BBC. In fact, if they paid for a billion TV licences, they could also watch repeats of (Far) East Enders without worrying about the detector van.

Scrobs. said...

BBC pot calling kettle of colour...

The BBC is probably the worst broadcaster around for fake news, we never listen or watch these days. The place is full of overpaid, undertalented trashy stuff, hideously enriched 'slebs' like lineker and ball, and is a total waste of public money.

I will now start to criticise them...

Tammly said...

'But with............
............grammatical structures'.

How can they tell? In my experience, a lot of native English can't employ grammar either. I've lost count of the number of times I've corrected people who've been 'sat at a railway station for half an hour', 'stood in a queue' and a bete noire of mine, 'the item is fit to the car' (an American import that one).
More 'pots and kettles'.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I hope you had a good break and yes, it would do better to fund the BBC. Or just sell the BBC to China minus the TV licence scam.

Scrobs - I often wonder if the high pay is to buy loyalty rather than talent.

Tammly - it doesn't bother me too much as it is so common, but one which does annoy me is using 'of' instead of 'have'. For example - 'I would of turned right if you would of told me.'