No surprise: China builds fake sites to promote its policies. It’s just this time they got caught.

One of the nice things about freedom of press and expression is that it is easier to track down lies and the lying liars who tell those lies. (Sorry, Al Franken. Couldn’t resist using a bit of the title of your book.)

The latest comes from that bastion of efforts to control everything: China.

Seems, no one was believing the official Beijing line that the residents of Tibet are overjoyed to be under Chinese rule and have no desire for any other kind of leadership. So some one (the government in Beijing quickly came to mind for many) created dozens of fake Twitter and YouTube accounts to promote the Chinese line about Tibet.

According to a story in International Business News, the fake accounts were all identified with Western names and faces. In once case, a fake Twitter used the picture of Brazilian model Felipe Berto without his permission.

The story — YouTube Suspends Fake Tibet Propaganda Accounts After Investigation — highlights the fake accounts and how they were found out.

And, as the headline notes, the social media companies suspended the fake accounts. In addition, YouTube took down the videos that showed happy and content Tibetans posted by the fake Twitter accounts.

Alistair Currie, the press and media manager for Free Tibet, summed up the situation nicely:

“China’s emphasis on manipulation of western public opinion is a sign of how important that public opinion is.”

In the past, China and the ex-Soviet Union used “friendship” assocations to do their propaganda dirty work. The problem was that it soon became clear these groups were really nothing but fronts for those governments. With the rise of the Internet the source of comments and material is much harder to track down.

And just like the dog in the classic New Yorker cartoon, no one knows who is a party dupe.

Fortunately, organizations and media without government control are free to look into who is saying what and why.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Press Freedom

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