back to article Think tank: China's tech giants refine and define Beijing's propaganda push

Chinese tech companies that serve as important links in the world's digital supply chains are helping Beijing to execute and refine its propaganda strategy, according to an Australian think tank. "The Chinese Communist Party seeks to harvest user data from globally popular Chinese apps, games and online platforms, to 'gauge …

  1. PhilipN Silver badge


    ...talking about someone else's propaganda strategy? Hilarious.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm pretty sure Android and Google ....

    .... do this for the US already

    Check out if you use an Android phone - the information that is captured is amazing - on Apple History Settings->My Activity

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm pretty sure Android and Google ....

      This is not about data capture. This is about trend detection and propaganda adjustments.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm pretty sure Android and Google ....

        That is a very good point @HISTSIZE=10000 but how do you do "trend detection and propaganda adjustments" without data?

        Once that data has been collated, organisations can pretty much do whatever processing they want with it - especially Governments ...

        Have you read about FISA 702? - Here's some info -

        I am very happy there are some key phrases in here - "Section 702 only permits the targeting of non-United States persons who are reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. United States persons and anyone in the United States may not be targeted under Section 702. Section 702 also prohibits “reverse targeting”—the IC may not target a non-U.S. person located outside the U.S. if the purpose of the collection is to collect information about a United States person or anyone located in the United States."

        "Section 702 is not a bulk collection program; it is a substantial and important targeted intelligence collection program. Every Section 702 targeting decision is individualized and documented, approved pursuant to a multi-step process embodied in specific targeting procedures, and reviewed by an independent oversight team."

        That should be more than adequate protection for anybody who thinks their rights may be abused - although the NSA have been proven to have collated information about US citizens in the past and been admonished for it.


        "Currently, Congress has to renew Section 702 every few years. It was last renewed in 2018 and is set to expire at the end of 2023.

        The bill that was most recently passed, S. 139, endorses nearly all warrantless searches of databases containing Americans’ communications collected under Section 702. It allows for the restarting of “about” collection, an invasive type of surveillance that the NSA ended in 2017 after being criticized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for privacy violations. And it includes a six-year sunset, delaying Congress’ best opportunity to debate the limits NSA surveillance."

        More info here - - NSA to have access to all equipment "routers, servers, cell towers etc"

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "bureaucracy and inefficiencies have frustrated attempts to control public opinion"

    Let's not forget corruption.

    Heaps and heaps of corruption.

    I honestly don't think there is a country in the world that can actually shape everyone's thoughts via governmental diktat.

    It's just too much hassle and requires too much supervision. The Internet may let you think you have everyone under surveillance, but conversations outside the Internet escape you.

    You cannot control everything.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "bureaucracy and inefficiencies have frustrated attempts to control public opinion"

      It's true you can't control everything. But there's a lot more information avaible to you now, if you're willing to invest the money and time.

      If you're Uighur, and have just been released from a few months at a "re-education camp" - you have to have the Chinese government app on your smartphone. If you don't use that smartphone for enough stuff, they'll know you have another one for personal use, and you're back in the camp. Everything you do on that phone is available, so do something that upsets the government - back to the camp. Create a pattern of leaving the phone at home for say 2 hours a day, while you escape to visit somewhere, back to the camp for you. While you can get round it, and no surveillance is perfect, it's very difficult.

      Also, the more intrusive your surveillance into other people, the more you can cross-reference and find the people who are successfully slipping between the cracks. The Chiinese government have still got their old-school secret police - so this is another tool that can be used to make them more effective.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Pot Meets Kettle for a PowWow in the Raging AI Camp Fire Pit?

    Are the US Defense Department’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office's, Global Information Dominance Experiments ...... ..... any different or familiarly similar to CCP's attempt to control global narratives, as is suggested by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's research report, 'Truth and reality with Chinese characteristics'

    And is this spooky and relevant ...... Re: 1984.... and when it is not a future hypothetical today ...... and/or just a totally unrelated coincidence?

    And there should be at least one comment for viewing in reply to that National DEFENSE website article ...... according to what they themselves have said ....... Thank you. Your comment will be displayed soon after reviewing.

    Methinks though, that automatic advisory, in order to be perfectly accurate and considerably more truthful, is better/best written as Thank you. Your comment may not be displayed soon after reviewing. ..... but that in no way prevents it from being generally known to be further more widely shared.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pot Meets Kettle for a PowWow in the Raging AI Camp Fire Pit?

      Right on Tokyo Rose ... right on ... </sarc>

  5. pavlecom
    IT Angle

    About the real truth ...

    Edward Snowden

    15. 4. 2024. — The NSA is just DAYS from taking over the internet, and it's not on the front page of any newspaper--because no one has noticed.

    Article is just a pile of thrash, accusing everyone else for what is their on working agenda, "ministry of truth" & data harvesting for wars. Obvious and disgraceful as narrative about Russia for years now, on China is the same.

    Sanctions, bombing, trade wars, tech wars, hybrid wars, cyber spying, fake news, data harvesting, tyrannical censorship, all is guilty of others, so pathetic as is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Re: About the real truth ...

      So, each time we get an article about Chinese mass population surveillance policies, your canned answer is one of "Snowden, Assange and Manning"?

      The difference is whether you use collected data to "find the needle in the haystack" (e.g. lone wolves or bombers) or whether you use collected data for systematic mass surveillance such as social credit and hunting freethinkers down.

      There's no way democracies can neglect Information Technologies as a means of protecting themselves. However, in contrast with autocratic regimes, they endeavour to enforce accountability mechanisms, as well as safeguard privacy, human rights and individual freedom of opinion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About the real truth ...

        There's a very popular saying - "One man's freedom fighter is another man's t********st"

        It just depends what side of the fence you're on - and what side of the fence the powers that be are on.

        Remember - segregation was legal at one point, also alcohol was banned - also homosexuality was banned - during those times doing the act of the opposite of was illegal - later it was legalised

        The act itself hasn't changed - only the perception/reactiton to the act.

        It's one of the benefits of having a sovereign country - you can print your own money and make your own laws - if others don't agree with it - don't work/live/trade there - but when a decision is made to actively try to overthrow/change the powers in that country, then it should be open for both parties to do this. For me, why not live and let live?

  6. pavlecom
    IT Angle

    Moreover free outlets .. TikTok

    TikTok, Truth Social, Telegram, and partly X, are free and not overcontrolled outlets. They, the "Deep State", therefore wanna take down TikTok cos of Trump & elections, like deliberate import of " illegal aliens " aka imported "millions of votes", and that's all. Propaganda and harvesting data is just a smoke screen and nice choreography.

    Accuse others for what you are guilty off.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Moreover free outlets .. TikTok

      You clearly forgot your dried frog pills this morning.

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    You've already hit the propaganda jackpot

    If you want to see propaganda in action then using stock phrases like "CCP" rather than "CHina's government" is a good example. Propaganda is designed to foster impressions and the way that we never refer directly to a government of a country that our government doesn't like. This usage is designed to foster a sense of illegitimacy and so legitimizes our attacks on it because we're obviously trying to free the pitiable, shackled and enslaved population.

    Propaganda is a fascinating subject, its all about tweaking reality to generate a desired visceral reaction and -- as the late Dr. Gobbells noted -- its most effective when its woven into the culture (...and it can even turn a profit in the process!). But at the same time its irritating to people who work with logic because its so obvious yet so pervasive and so widely accepted. Maybe one should just give up and concede that two plus two really does equal five after all!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: You've already hit the propaganda jackpot

      CCP is accurate. What’s your problem? China is a one party state. That party is the Chinese Communist Party. It's the ruling party. Most politics therefore has to happen inside that party, or you get locked up by the secret police. Although the CCP have given surprising amounts of extra power to Xi, meaning that the Politburo are less important than before, and the country is becoming more of a dictatorship. So even dissent within the party is now often met with repression, in the form of purges of opponents for corruption.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: You've already hit the propaganda jackpot

        Its the same everywhere. Our government is run by the CPA -- "The Capitalist Party of America". Our nominal political parties are just two sides of the same coin. Communism itself isn't tolerated -- we actually have laws in the US about this sort of thing which is why people here tend to dance around the term 'Socialist' (although, ironically, at the local level there's often a lot more socialism than you'd find in a country like the UK under an ostensibly socialist Labour government).

        With our monolith, like their monolith, there's numerous factions which affect the daily lives of everyday people. The Chinese even tolerate -- encourage even -- private business. The difference between the societies is focus, about what goals take priority in society. Here I'd assert that the "CCP" (or "CPC" if you prefer) is first and foremost "Chinese", its a reflection of their society, culture and history.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          When martinusher hits his own propaganda jackpot

          This is really unconvincing. You're pro-Chinese attitude is, quite understandably, embarrassed with the CCP's dictatorship and you seem to be annoyed when people report its oppression of the Chinese people and its aggressive international policy. So you call it "propaganda". If you knew some Chinese people intimately, you'd know how much they resent the CCP's caste domination over China. Being able to differentiate between "China" and "the CCP" is actually the exact opposite of sinophobia. Many connoisseurs love Chinese art and culture but that does not make them CCP advocates. Quite the opposite. Therefore, using "CCP" instead of "China" is a form of respect for the Chinese people currently trapped inside one of the last communism historical singularities.

          So, "I ain't Spartacus" is spot on. No need to make up your own acronyms and push the "we are all equally bad, the CCP is not worse than the rest" narrative. THIS IS the propaganda jackpot.

    2. MOV r0,r0

      Re: You've already hit the propaganda jackpot

      Actually, a good example would be referring to the government of the PRC as "CPC" which is what they were insisting on a while back instead of CCP - after, of course, having seeded all the search results for "CPC" with their communist fluff pieces.

      Sadly for them, my history directs searches for CPC to a rather good electronic components supplier in Preston and sadly for you, 2+2=5 is true for high values of two (eg, 2.7 + 2.8) so never a good analogy that one, especially when claiming the logical high ground!

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