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YouTube Search Results for Beijing Winter Olympics Dominated by Propaganda Videos, Report Finds

February 17th, 2022 16:02

US media is report­ing that YouTube’s search results for the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics are dom­i­nat­ed by both pro-Chi­na and anti-Chi­na pro­pa­gan­da videos and dis­in­for­ma­tion. Accord­ing to a Wired investigation:

Feb­ru­ary 11, 2022 Sports fans who tuned in to watch the Bei­jing Win­ter Olympics on YouTube are instead being served propa­day gan­da videos. An analy­sis of YouTube search results by WIRED found that peo­ple who typed “Bei­jing,” “Bei­jing 2022,” “Olympics,” or “Olympics 2022” were shown pro-Chi­na and anti-Chi­na pro­pa­gan­da videos in the top results. Five of the most promi­nent pro­pa­gan­da videos, which often appear above actu­al Olympics high­lights, have amassed almost 900,000 views.  Two anti-Chi­na videos show­ing up in search results were pub­lished by a group called The BL (The Beau­ty of Life), which Face­book pre­vi­ous­ly linked to the Falun Gong, a Chi­nese spir­i­tu­al move­ment that was banned by the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty in 1999 and has protest­ed against the regime ever since. They jos­tled for views with pro-Chi­na videos post­ed by West­ern YouTu­bers whose work has pre­vi­ous­ly been pro­mot­ed by China’s Min­istry of For­eign Affairs. Sim­i­lar search results were vis­i­ble in the US, Cana­da, and the UK. WIRED also found signs that view­ing num­bers for pro-Chi­na videos are being arti­fi­cial­ly boost­ed through the use of fake news websites.

Read the rest here.

The report notes that the dom­i­nance of pro­pa­gan­da videos sug­gests that YouTube is at risk of let­ting such cam­paigns hijack the Olympics. The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report report­ed yes­ter­day that pro-Chi­na accounts have also hijacked the hash­tag #Geno­cideGames on Twit­ter in an effort to dilute the hashtag’s pow­er to gal­va­nize crit­i­cism of China’s human rights abus­es in Xinjiang.