How China Uses Bots and Fake Twitter Accounts to Shape the Olympics

This article is published with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative newsroom.

BEIJING — Inside the Potemkin village of China’s propaganda, the Winter Olympics have unfolded as an unalloyed success, a celebration of sports and political harmony that has obscured — critics say whitewashed — the country’s flaws and rights abuses.

At Beijing 2022, the hills are snowy, not brown as usual this time of year. A Uyghur skier is the symbol of national unity, the tennis player Peng Shuai just a curious spectator. Athletes and foreign journalists praise the polite volunteers and marvel at the high-speed trains and the robots that boil dumplings and mix drinks.

While China’s control of what its domestic viewers and readers consume is well established, the country has spread its own…

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