X

Pro-China Twitter Accounts Coopt Human Rights Hashtag Critical of Beijing Winter Olympics

February 16th, 2022 15:21

US media report­ed last week that in the lead-up to the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics, pro-Chi­na accounts have flood­ed Twit­ter with the hash­tag #Geno­cideGames. Accord­ing to a Wall Street Jour­nal report:

Feb­ru­ary 8, 2022 Pro-Chi­na accounts have been flood­ing Twit­ter with mes­sages that include the hash­tag #Geno­cideGames, in what researchers say is an effort to dilute the hashtag’s pow­er to gal­va­nize crit­i­cism of the Win­ter Olympics host nation. Human-rights advo­cates and West­ern law­mak­ers have used the #Geno­cideGames hash­tag to raise aware­ness about Xin­jiang, a region in north­west­ern Chi­na where author­i­ties have con­duct­ed forcible assim­i­la­tion efforts against reli­gious minori­ties, includ­ing Uyghur Mus­lims. Xin­jiang has become a focal point for crit­ics of China’s poli­cies ahead of the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics, which began last week.

Read the full report here.

Since the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics, Chi­na has spent bil­lions of dol­lars to increase the reach of its state-run media out­lets and bol­ster its rep­u­ta­tion abroad. It has also spent sig­nif­i­cant resources to denounce West­ern crit­i­cism and divert atten­tion away from China’s human rights vio­la­tions in Xin­jiang. In March 2021, an exclu­sive GIOR inves­ti­ga­tion exposed a Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tion where YouTube was flood­ed with hun­dreds of pro­pa­gan­da videos white­wash­ing China’s human rights vio­la­tions in Xin­jiang and push­ing the hash­tag #StopX­in­jian­gRu­mors.

In Jan­u­ary, we report­ed that Chi­na hired west­ern social media influ­encers to spread pos­i­tive sto­ries about Chi­na through­out the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics and Paralympics.