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Of Algorithms and Autocrats: A Case Study of Chinese Computational Propaganda Exploitation for Soft Power During Covid-19 Crisis

Duyar, Sarp LU (2020) STVK12 20201
Department of Political Science
Abstract
This study explores the Chinese computational propaganda exploitation during the Covid-19 crisis. By demonstrating the intricacies of this case of computational propaganda utilization, this research attempts to answer an even larger question: How do authoritarian countries incorporate computational propaganda to their soft power strategies. To that end, first; a theoretical bridge was formed between computational propaganda and soft power. This was achieved by explaining how computational propaganda works within the soft-power-enhancing-framework of strategic narratives. Secondly, a deliberately formed and projected strategic narrative was identified in the case of China during Covid-19. To do that, tweets by the Chinese Foreign Ministry... (More)
This study explores the Chinese computational propaganda exploitation during the Covid-19 crisis. By demonstrating the intricacies of this case of computational propaganda utilization, this research attempts to answer an even larger question: How do authoritarian countries incorporate computational propaganda to their soft power strategies. To that end, first; a theoretical bridge was formed between computational propaganda and soft power. This was achieved by explaining how computational propaganda works within the soft-power-enhancing-framework of strategic narratives. Secondly, a deliberately formed and projected strategic narrative was identified in the case of China during Covid-19. To do that, tweets by the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokespeople were analyzed. Lastly, the employment of computational propaganda in this strategic narrative was examined through detecting political bots amplifying the reach of the analyzed tweets. Mundane tweets from the same accounts were also analyzed to form a comparison. This research found that there are significantly more political bots retweeting posts that are important to the identified strategic narrative. Hence, by providing empirical data that shows that political bots were tactically placed in tweets that are a part of the strategic narrative of China, and not randomly; this study connects computational propaganda to strategic narrative theory, in turn providing a mechanism of how computational propaganda is strategically used to enhance soft power capabilities of authoritarian states. (Less)
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author
Duyar, Sarp LU
supervisor
organization
course
STVK12 20201
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Covid-19, Computational Propaganda, Soft Power, Strategic Narrative, Political Bots
language
English
id
9011273
date added to LUP
2020-08-05 11:19:34
date last changed
2020-08-05 11:19:34
@misc{9011273,
  abstract     = {This study explores the Chinese computational propaganda exploitation during the Covid-19 crisis. By demonstrating the intricacies of this case of computational propaganda utilization, this research attempts to answer an even larger question: How do authoritarian countries incorporate computational propaganda to their soft power strategies. To that end, first; a theoretical bridge was formed between computational propaganda and soft power. This was achieved by explaining how computational propaganda works within the soft-power-enhancing-framework of strategic narratives. Secondly, a deliberately formed and projected strategic narrative was identified in the case of China during Covid-19. To do that, tweets by the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokespeople were analyzed. Lastly, the employment of computational propaganda in this strategic narrative was examined through detecting political bots amplifying the reach of the analyzed tweets. Mundane tweets from the same accounts were also analyzed to form a comparison. This research found that there are significantly more political bots retweeting posts that are important to the identified strategic narrative. Hence, by providing empirical data that shows that political bots were tactically placed in tweets that are a part of the strategic narrative of China, and not randomly; this study connects computational propaganda to strategic narrative theory, in turn providing a mechanism of how computational propaganda is strategically used to enhance soft power capabilities of authoritarian states.},
  author       = {Duyar, Sarp},
  keyword      = {Covid-19,Computational Propaganda,Soft Power,Strategic Narrative,Political Bots},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Of Algorithms and Autocrats: A Case Study of Chinese Computational Propaganda Exploitation for Soft Power During Covid-19 Crisis},
  year         = {2020},
}