Ironically, while Facebook is banned behind the great firewall, outside its borders China uses it to spread state produced propaganda around the world, including the United States.
Each quarter, China’s government, through its state media agencies, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy Facebook ads.
Last week, executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter were grilled in Washington about Russia’s use of American social media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Though banned, foreign social media companies are trying to promote themselves in China. Many Chinese businesses, and the government, use Facebook to reach an international audience.
Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, asked whether China had also run ads to affect the United States election. Facebook’s general counsel replied that to his knowledge it had not.
China has been a major priority for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder, has spent years courting it. Facebook executives even set up a page to show CCTV, one of Beijing’s chief propaganda outlets, how to use the platform during President Xi Jinping’s 2015 trip to the United States.
Rather than divisive advertisements, many Chinese Facebook posts replicate the sort of news propaganda delivered at home. They stress things like China’s stability and prosperity mixed with posts highlighting chaos and violence in the rest of the world.
So, you get pandas and Chinese landscapes next to heavy coverage of the mass shootings in the US.