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How China Manipulates Online Audiences

How China Manipulates Online Audiences

Full project title: How China Manipulates Online Audiences: A Novel Approach Using Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence


As an authoritarian state with extensive resources to develop AI and algorithmic tools, China serves as an important case study to better understand how authoritarian states use these tools for social control. By understanding how China uses AI and amplified online rhetoric, we can anticipate how other authoritarian states may develop such capacities.

In a world where information and data are increasingly tools by which nation-states and other actors pursue their objectives, it is incumbent on researchers to unpack the digital mechanisms used by these actors. Additionally, it is important to develop better measures to gauge the extent to which manipulated text and images are perceived and absorbed by international audiences.

This project approaches AI in two ways—first, as a research tool and second, as a point of research itself. Specifically, it develops novel AI NLP tools to, in turn, investigate how China is developing and strategically deploying AI and other tools for social control and online discourse manipulation.

In the first instance it focusses on understanding how China is developing AI to control its domestic population, then works to develop novel AI NLP tools to identify how, and with what degree of success, China is using sentiment to manipulate international social media algorithms and thereby amplify its messaging toward international audiences. Finally, it also seeks to quantify the degree to which audiences amplify and echo this messaging.

Key Information

  • Dieter Schwarz Stiftung gGmbH
  • Project dates:
    November 2022 - October 2023

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