How China’s State-Sponsored Social Networks Control Misinformation—and Dissent

  • November 20, 2018
    A person holds a phone up as it displays the WeChat logo.
    Photo: Alamy

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    State regulators around the world have responded to the proliferation of online rumors and propaganda on social media sites with a broad variety of actions. Australia, Brazil, and Indonesia have deployed government task forces and investigations, while Belarus, Egypt, Kenya, France, and Cambodia have criminalized specific types of misinformation.

    Elsewhere, the conversation is streamlined—and muddied—by more intimate relationships between state governments and social media platforms.

    Chinese social media giant WeChat, owned by telecom company Tencent, has been subsidized and controlled by the national government since 2011. Like Facebook, WeChat—which did not respond to a request for comment on this story—has become a primary news source for many of its more than one billion active users, and the service is similarly plagued by accusations that it encourages the spread of sensationalist falsehoods.

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