How China manipulates search engines to spread propaganda and weaken its democratic rivals

Blocking content backed by Chinese state media from appearing in global search results would also prevent users from gaining access to any understanding of Chinese society. PA.

New Delhi: In modern life, whether for travel or for acquiring vital information, for online addresses or for a myriad of other needs, people cannot function without depending on an informative search engine. Search engines are popular because they provide quick answers to popular queries. But when a search engine is controlled by an authoritarian state like China, it only serves to spread false narratives and most often propaganda. For Beijing, search engines have proven to be tools for disseminating propaganda to audiences around the world and also for undermining neighboring democratic countries.

China, known for its state-backed media, has begun to exploit search engines to spread Chinese Communist Party propaganda, according to a recent study by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. On topics of geopolitical importance, China has begun to exploit search engine results to disseminate information gathered by state-backed media outlets that amplify Chinese Communist Party propaganda. The study also found that China manages to prevent negative news about the country from appearing in most search engine results.

The study found that China has for some time used search engines as a crucial tool in its information war against less developed countries. The study, conducted over four months, found that China was significantly exploiting search engine results on the two most frequently searched topics, “Xinjiang” and the unprecedented global onslaught caused by “Covid-19 “. Both have turned out to be topics that China’s political leaders are very sensitive to and would only want the world to know which version they are posting.

Around the world, users who turn to search engines for authentic information about “Xinjiang” – the site of the CCP’s human rights abuses of the minority Uyghur community, or the origins of dreaded Covid-19 pandemic are surprisingly likely to find articles on these topics. published by Chinese state media, spitting out the views of China’s authoritarian rulers on these events – in other words, versions the CCP would want the world to know and believe.

When prominently reflecting such content, search engines often play a vital role in China’s efforts to shape the narrative, thereby distorting the real truth.

Multinational corporations are just beginning to realize the fallout from manipulated search engine results and are looking for ways to deal with this state-sponsored content on the World Wide Web. Microsoft last week said it would consider labeling state-sponsored content like that originating from China, and it also said it would produce its first transparency report on efforts to slow down the spread of state-sponsored disinformation later this year.

Google-owned YouTube began labeling state-affiliated accounts in 2018, including those at many Chinese outlets. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Google demonetized and further downgraded Russian state media.

However, the decision to regulate search engines and prevent them from delivering state-sponsored content to users also has a downside. Blocking content backed by Chinese state media from appearing in global search results would also prevent users from gaining access to any understanding of Chinese society – normally a veritable fortress. But on the other hand, letting Chinese state-run media dominate search engine results also poses a risk to users who could end up absorbing large amounts of shoddy information in their quest for knowledge.

Read all Recent news, New trends, Cricket News, bollywood news,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Rosemary S. Bishop