State-sponsored Internet propaganda

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State-sponsored internet sockpuppetry is a government's use of paid internet propagandists with the intention of swaying online opinion, undermining dissident communities, or changing the perception of what is the dominant view. It is a kind of astroturfing.

The following is a list of the known or alleged examples of state-sponsored Internet propaganda:


  •  China: Internet Water Army, 50 Cent Party, in operation since October 2004
  •  Myanmar: the Tatmadaw and the Burmese Government has sponsored propaganda through Internet and dismiss its atrocities towards its minorities like the Rohingya, Shan, Kachin and Karen people.[1][2]
  •  North Korea: the troll army of North Korea, which is known to be supportive for the Kim dynasty's rule, and anti-South Korean, anti-American and pro-North Korean regime. They first appeared in 2013.[3]
  •  Philippines: The Oxford University released a study claiming that hired "keyboard trolls" played a role in President Rodrigo Duterte's presidential campaign in 2016. The study said that the Duterte campaign team spent at least $200 thousand and hired 400 to 500 people to defend Duterte from online critics. It also added that the hired "trolls" remain to support Duterte and his administration after he was elected. Online trolls were allegedly used by the administration to silence critics through threats of violence and rape to people critical to Duterte's policies.[4] Duterte, while admitted to paying people to support him online during the elections said he has followers referring to his staunch supporter, Mocha Uson who runs the support group Mocha Uson Blog but insists that Uson offers her services free.[5]
  •  Singapore:
1. Ruling party People's Action Party and its youth wing Young PAP have been officially reported to have organized teams to work both publicly and anonymously to counter criticism of party and government in cyberspace since 1995.[6][7][8][9] As reported by the Straits Times, as of 2007, the group consists of two teams, led by members of parliament of People's Action Party, where one team strategises the campaign the other team executes the strategies.[10]
2. There are also pro-party individuals known as 'Internet Brigade'[11][12] who claim to be not affiliated with the party nor officially endorsed by party, who setup elaborate social media and web page to 'defend' the ruling party of online chatters and to criticize social-political websites critical of the government and members of opposition parties. They have information about their party's endorsed candidate personal details and events not publicly known and MP elected as their members, Often they have anonymous members, sometimes with fake or purchased identity, re-posting on Internet forums and social-media their published articles[13][14]
3. The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) frequently engages advertising agencies to promote civic campaigns and national day celebrations on traditional media, video-sharing websites and social media.[15] Some of these nation-building efforts are seen as selective in choosing the historical narratives, often only focusing the achievements of the ruling party.[16]

Middle East and North Africa[edit]

1. Hasbara, which means "explanation" in Hebrew, is also a euphemism for the public relations efforts to disseminate abroad positive information or propaganda about the State of Israel and its actions.[22][23][24][25]
2. Jewish Internet Defense Force
  •  Morocco: the Moroccan Government has been sponsoring and funding propaganda as well as establishment of sockpuppets around[26] to undermine Algeria's territorial integrity, promoting separatism against Spain, as well as promoting anti-Western Saharan independence issue and deny its poor treatments towards Riffian people.[27][28][29]
  •  Saudi Arabia: King's Brigade, known to be supportive for the Saud family and the monarchy. Its mission is to denounce any criticisms against the Saud family, and praising Sharia Law.
  •  Sudan: the Government of Sudan has been accused for using propaganda penetrating the reality, notably during the Darfur War, by labelling the non-Arab Darfuris as heretics and enemy of Sudan, to increase the level of massacre and genocide.[30] It was believed to be the similar propaganda tactics used by Khartoum over the South Sudan question, notably Abyei problem.[31]
  •  Turkey: 6.000 paid social media commentators known as "AK Trolls" mainly spreading pro-Erdogan propaganda and attack those opposing Erdogan.[32]


1. Web brigades first alleged in April 2003
2. "CyberBerkut", Identified as "a front organization for Russian state-sponsored cyber activity, supporting Russia's military operations and strategic objectives in Ukraine"[33]
3. Internet Research Agency, also known as "Trolls from Olgino". Identified as "trolling"/astroturfing company operating on numerous sites.


1. Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, founded in 2010.[35]
2. Operation Earnest Voice, officially started in 2011.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mike Firn (13 August 2013). "North Korea builds online troll army of 3,000". The Telegraph.
  4. ^ "Duterte: No money for trolls, rigged surveys". ABS-CBN News. 24 June 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  5. ^ Valente, Catherine (25 July 2017). "Duterte on use of 'troll' army: I have followers". The Manila Times. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Mickey Unbound". WIRED (1.4). 1995-07-01. p. 51. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  7. ^ Rodan, Garry (1998-03-01). "The Internet and Political Control in Singapore". Political Science Quarterly. 113 (1): 63–89. doi:10.2307/2657651. ISSN 1538-165X. JSTOR 2657651.
  8. ^ Chen, Tommi (14 March 1995). "Internet world watches as Young PAP enters cyberspace". The Straits Times.
  9. ^ Tesoro, Jose Manuel (11 October 1996). "The Great Online Debate". Asiaweek.
  10. ^ Li Xueying (3 February 2007). "PAP moves to counter criticism of party, Govt in cyberspace". The Straits Times.
  11. ^ Seah Chiang Nee (24 November 2012). "PAP's quiet counter-insurgency". The Star.
  12. ^ Koh, Gillian (2014). Singapore Perspectives 2013: Governance. Singapore: World Scientific Pub. Co. p. 56. ISBN 9789814520751.
  13. ^ Leonard Lim (16 September 2011). "Netizens setup Facebook page to defend PAP, Govt in cyberspace". The Straits Times.
  14. ^ Pearl Lee (20 September 2015). "Supporters seek to amplify PAP voice online". The Straits Times.
  15. ^ Tay, Vivienne. "Massive government tender sees 30 agencies added to roster". Marketing Interactive.
  16. ^ Tan, Kenneth Paul (10 April 2016). "Choosing What to Remember in Neoliberal Singapore: The Singapore Story, State Censorship and State-Sponsored Nostalgia". Asian Studies Review. 40 (2): 231–249. doi:10.1080/10357823.2016.1158779.
  17. ^ Nga Pham (12 January 2013), Vietnam admits deploying bloggers to support government, BBC News
  18. ^ "Vietnam has 10,000-strong 'cyber troop': general - Tuoi Tre News". Tuoi Tre News (in Vietnamese). 26 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Vietnam censors to fight 'internet chaos'". BBC News. 27 December 2017.
  20. ^ Hookway, James (31 December 2017). "Introducing Force 47, Vietnam's New Weapon Against Online Dissent". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Benedictus, Leo (6 November 2016). "Invasion of the troll armies: 'Social media where the war goes on'". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Government to use citizens as army in social media war". The Jerusalem Post. 14 August 2013.
  24. ^ "Israel to pay students to defend it online". USA Today. 14 August 2013.
  25. ^ Hall, Matthew (18 July 2014). "Israeli propaganda war hits social media". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Military Power Publications". Retrieved 2017-09-25.
  34. ^ Greenwald, Glenn and Andrew Fishman. Controversial GCHQ Unit Engaged in Domestic Law Enforcement, Online Propaganda, Psychology Research. The Intercept. 2015-06-22.
  35. ^ Why It's So Hard to Stop ISIS Propaganda. The Atlantic. 2015-03-02.

External links[edit]