So it turns out that Chinese Communist Party propaganda absolutely dominates your search results on Google, YouTube, and Bing
· Jun 16, 2022 ·

What if you were told that, for all appearances, it looks like major tech organizations—the people that guide, shape, control and dominate our national discourse and policy debates—are apparently beholden to one of the worst political parties on the planet. Would you think that an impossible scenario, something out of a bad dystopian novel?

Well, think again:

For months, our team has been tracking how China has exploited search engine results on Xinjiang and COVID-19, two subjects that are geopolitically salient to Beijing — Xinjiang, because the Chinese government seeks to push back on condemnation of its rights record; COVID-19, because it seeks to deflect criticism for its early mishandling of the pandemic. In both cases, Beijing is quite focused on positioning itself as a responsible global leader and softening perceptions to the contrary.

Xinjiang, you'll remember, is the region of China in which the Chinese Communist Party has enslaved hundreds of thousands of Uyghur minorities, while COVID-19 has served the CCP well by driving countless leaders in the West to shut down their economies and bring their countries to the bring of destruction. So you kinda get why they want to control the narrative on this stuff.

The results are nevertheless quite stunning:

Chinese state media are remarkably effective at influencing the content returned for the term "Xinjiang" across several search types. "Xinjiang," which is among the most neutral terms in our data set, regularly returned state-backed content across news searches, with at least one Chinese state-backed news outlet appearing in the top 10 results in 88% of searches (106 out of 120 days searched). On YouTube, state media appeared among the top 10 results in searches for "Xinjiang" in 98% of searches (118 out of 120 days searched).

By way of specific example:

Consistent with past research, search results for conspiratorial terms across all search types yielded a high volume of state-driven content. Take, for example, the term "Fort Detrick" — a military base in Maryland that housed the United States' biological weapons program from 1943 to 1969 and has become a central figure in China's efforts to spread disinformation about the origins of the coronavirus outbreak. On YouTube, searches for "Fort Detrick'' regularly returned state-backed content, with 619 observations of videos from Chinese state media outlets appearing in the top 10 search results during our study (or around five per day). ...

  • With all this in mind, it can be very easy to forget what was once, long ago, Google's corporate motto:

Times have changed, I guess! Plan accordingly!

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