russian and chinese control of social media
Last week, I was asked to be a discussant on a panel for a conference on Russian media. I responded to a paper by journalist, Andrei Soldatov, whose paper chronicled the Russian state’s response to social media. The way I summarized it is as follows:
- As with most states, initial confusion.
- Then, journalists, and social media by extension, were granted Western style autonomy. Until…
- The contraction of the Russian economy de-legitimized Western views of press freedom.
- And then the Russian state clumsily tried to usurp social media firms.
- And then that failed, they turned to the Chinese state for help managing social media.
In my reading, then, the Russian state is in between Western and Chinese models of social media control. The Western model is passive and uses law enforcement as a model. You let people post what they want but you do surveillance and intervene as needed. In the Chinese model, you control the entire platform and censor as needed.
Soldatov added that recently the Russian and Chinese states have met to set up standards and arrange for the purchase of Chinese equipment, which suggests that the Russian state is going deeper into the Chinese model of social control.
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