China tests search engines’ propaganda mechanisms in a police affair

by Laurent François

I read an amazing story yesterday, about a new online propaganda test in China:

“China has invited sceptical Internet surfers to help investigate the death of a man in custody who police say ran into a wall blindfolded while playing hide-and-seek, state media said on Friday. Li Qiaoming, 24, died from a severe brain injury four days after being sent to hospital from a detention centre in the southwestern province of Yunnan, the Beijing News said. He had been arrested for illegally cutting down trees. The cause of death given by police has been widely questioned on the Internet. “We’ve invited Internet users to investigate the case on the spot and hope they can made their own judgment and spread the information they see with their own eyes to as many people as possible,” Gong Fei, Yunnan’s propaganda chief, was quoted as saying. “It’s the first time in Yunnan, and even in China, netizens have been asked to participate in an investigation,” he was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.”

What does it mean? That Beijing perfectly understood search engines rules based on popularity, and that they have to control to a certain extent what is the most “potential” truth when it comes to government actions. That’s certainly why they “engaged” internet users: to make them diffuse a new word-of-mouth about the case.

photo credits.

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