How China & Russia Use Social Media to Sway the West
A new report by Recorded Future analyses how social media-based campaigns by the Russian and Chinese governments aim to influence public opinion in the US and other Western countries. The study finds significant differences between the Chinese and Russian campaigns both in terms of motivation and the way in which they are carried out.
According to the researchers, the strategic goals of Russian President Vladimir Putin are “disruptive,” as the Russian leader wants to drive a wedge between the US and its European and other allies in order to bring about a polycentric international system. As happened in the 2016 US Presidential elections, Russia pursues this aim by using supposedly “private” companies to spread fake news that undermines trust in public institutions and creates deep societal divisions.
By contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping mainly aims to present people both within and outside of China with a positive image about China’s contributions to peace and equality around the globe. In pursuit of this goal, the Chinese government not only uses censorship and propaganda to control what happens on the domestic Internet, but also reaches out to global audiences by distributing positive stories about China and the Chinese government through social media.