Gaming Public Opinion

Article by Albert Zhang , Tilla Hoja & Jasmine Latimore: “The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) embrace of large-scale online influence operations and spreading of disinformation on Western social-media platforms has escalated since the first major attribution from Silicon Valley companies in 2019. While Chinese public diplomacy may have shifted to a softer tone in 2023 after many years of wolf-warrior online rhetoric, the Chinese Government continues to conduct global covert cyber-enabled influence operations. Those operations are now more frequent, increasingly sophisticated and increasingly effective in supporting the CCP’s strategic goals. They focus on disrupting the domestic, foreign, security and defence policies of foreign countries, and most of all they target democracies.

Currently—in targeted democracies—most political leaders, policymakers, businesses, civil society groups and publics have little understanding of how the CCP currently engages in clandestine activities online in their countries, even though this activity is escalating and evolving quickly. The stakes are high for democracies, given the indispensability of the internet and their reliance on open online spaces, free from interference. Despite years of monitoring covert CCP cyber-enabled influence operations by social-media platforms, governments, and research institutes such as ASPI, definitive public attribution of the actors driving these activities is rare. Covert online operations, by design, are difficult to detect and attribute to state actors. 

Social-media platforms and governments struggle to devote adequate resources to identifying, preventing and deterring increasing levels of malicious activity, and sometimes they don’t want to name and shame the Chinese Government for political, economic and/or commercial reasons…(More)”.