Hong Kong

Autocracies rely on social media as a potent propaganda weapon

illustration of a marionette strings attached to a globe
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twitter and Facebook announced Monday the takedown of coordinated misinformation campaigns from the Chinese government, the latest in a list of global regimes caught using social media to exploit their own people, spread propaganda or retain power.

Why it matters: While mostly Western leaders around the globe push to hold social media companies accountable for large-scale misinformation campaigns, autocratic regimes have become increasingly reliant on social media technologies.

Twitter bans advertising from "state-controlled news media entities"

Hong kong protestors
Tens of thousands take to the streets of Hong Kong in a rally in Victoria Park, Aug, 18. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Twitter announced Monday that it would no longer accept advertising from "state-controlled news media entities" after finding that more than 900 accounts originating from inside China have been part of a coordinated effort to undermine political protests in Hong Kong.

The big picture: Hong Kong saw its 11th straight week of pro-democracy protests over the weekend as the city pushes back on what it views as encroachment by the Chinese government on its autonomy. The accounts, which Twitter said were part of a "coordinated state-backed operation," sought to delegitimize the protest movement.