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China’s State Media Buys Facebook Ads Pushing Russia’s Line on War

March 10th, 2022 12:45

US media is report­ing that major Chi­nese state-run broad­cast­er CGTN is buy­ing ads on Face­book tar­get­ing glob­al users with Eng­lish-lan­guage brief­in­gs and news­casts fea­tur­ing pro-Russ­ian talk­ing points about Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine. Accord­ing to an Axios report:

March 9, 2022 Ads from Chi­nese state broad­cast­er CGTN are run­ning on Meta-owned Face­book, tar­get­ing glob­al users with pro-Russ­ian talk­ing points about Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine. The big pic­ture: Bei­jing views Rus­sia as a close part­ner, and has stayed by Putin’s side as he invad­ed Ukraine, even going so far as to blame the inva­sion on the U.S. and NATO.  Details: Chi­na Glob­al TV Net­work, a Chi­na state-con­trolled out­let with near­ly 118 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Face­book and 2.4 mil­lion on Insta­gram, placed at least 21 adver­tise­ments on Face­book this month, most fea­tur­ing news­casts about the war or media brief­in­gs from Chi­nese offi­cials. […] Many of the ads, which are most­ly clips of CGTN news­casts, sprin­kle in pro-Rus­sia, anti-NATO talk­ing points and down­play Rus­si­a’s actions in launch­ing an unpro­voked inva­sion of its neighbor.

Read the rest here.

The Axios report notes the Chi­na Glob­al Tele­vi­sion Net­work (CGTN) is an inter­na­tion­al news chan­nel con­trolled by the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty and claims to reach 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple world­wide, includ­ing 30 mil­lion house­holds in the US. A 2021 NATO study has iden­ti­fied CGTN as one of Chi­na’s main proxy non-state influ­ence actors abroad and con­clud­ed it can be con­sid­ered part of the more wide-reach­ing unit­ed front network.

In May 2021, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report report­ed that the UK revoked the TV license for CGTN over its ties to the Com­mu­nist Par­ty and that Chi­na retal­i­at­ed by ban­ning the BBC. We have also report­ed that in 2020, CGTN spent more than $50 mil­lion on its US oper­a­tions, account­ing for near­ly 80% of total Chi­nese spend­ing on influ­enc­ing US pub­lic opin­ion and policy.

A report by the Chi­na Dig­i­tal Times, a US-based media out­let, recent­ly revealed that Chi­nese media out­lets have been told to avoid post­ing any­thing unfa­vor­able to Rus­sia or pro-West­ern on their social media accounts and to only use hash­tags start­ed by Chi­nese state media outlets.