Chinese social media companies are required by law to censor content that “undermines social stability” or criticizes the central government.
The tight control of information, combined with the frequent scrubbing of posts, breeds suspicion and, in the end, creates a vacuum for misinformation.
A viral video of tanks on streets of China has gone viral, with people falsely claiming the tanks were sent in to quell protests related to the banking crisis, Yahoo News reported.
Authorities in #China's Henan province have taken tanks to the streets at night to quell an active protest of defrauded depositors. The protests have been going on for more than two weeks now. pic.twitter.com/wGRj3TWTOR
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) July 21, 2022
A number of popular accounts shared the video, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes and shares on Twitter, while a Reddit post claiming the tanks were “protecting banks” received dozens of comments and sparked news articles.
However, the footage appears to be from a military town in Shandong’s eastern province on July 17, and is unrelated to the banking protests.
#PLA #tanks on the streets in Rizhao City, #Shandong Province, #CCPChina. It was said that there is a navy training base nearby, and this happens every year.
Yet, right now… pic.twitter.com/bkaFu011Ou
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) July 19, 2022
According to Ass Prof Hillman, the CCP is aware that its strict censorship creates a vacuum for counter narratives and misinformation online, especially outside of China.
“The party is obsessed with control. It will start working on its on narrative and propaganda and allowing visitors once it feels it has everything under control.
“What is interesting is what kind of actors are behind this disinformation,” he added, alluding to anti-CCP groups.