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RECOMMENDED READING: “Censorship and the Capitol Riot: How Big Tech Became the Target of Russian, Chinese, and Iranian Messaging”

March 4th, 2021 16:17

The Alliance for Secur­ing Democ­ra­cy has pub­lished a report exam­in­ing how Iran­ian, Russ­ian, and Chi­nese state media have used the occa­sion of polit­i­cal dys­func­tion in the US in order to launch attacks on US social media com­pa­nies. The report begins:

Jan­u­ary 22, 2021 Since the riot at the U.S. capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6, there has been a clear ele­ment of schaden­freude in Iran­ian, Russ­ian, and Chi­nese state media cov­er­age of polit­i­cal and social dis­union in the Unit­ed States. That adver­sar­i­al state media out­lets would use the chaos and ensu­ing fall­out to cast the Unit­ed States as unre­li­able and democ­ra­cy as unat­trac­tive was pre­dictable, if not inevitable. But beyond the usu­al tropes used to den­i­grate the Unit­ed States in times of dys­func­tion, a promi­nent sub-theme that has emerged in their cov­er­age is an intense focus on social media com­pa­nies’ response to the attack, in par­tic­u­lar the por­tray­al of Face­book and Twitter’s deci­sion to ban Don­ald Trump as a slip­pery slope towards cen­sor­ship. While it may seem incon­gru­ous for media out­lets fund­ed by coun­tries that con­sis­tent­ly rank among the world’s worst offend­ers in terms of uphold­ing press and Inter­net free­doms to launch an anti-cen­sor­ship cru­sade, it is not an unusu­al talk­ing point—especially for RT. Irony aside, efforts by adver­sar­i­al actors to ampli­fy alle­ga­tions of social media cen­sor­ship high­light both the grow­ing promi­nence of Big Tech as a U.S. wedge issue as well as author­i­tar­i­an coun­tries’ desire to damp­en the appeal of a U.S.-led Internet.

Read the full report here.

Last Octo­ber, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) post­ed on anoth­er Alliance for Secur­ing Democ­ra­cy report on how Russ­ian, Chi­nese, and Iran­ian state-backed media cov­ered the U.S. Pres­i­den­tial and Vice Pres­i­den­tial Debates, con­clud­ing that they used the debates to paint a pic­ture of the US polit­i­cal sys­tem “as deeply dys­func­tion­al if not irredeemable.”