Court filings by the U.S. Justice Department on Monday, April 4, unveiled fresh details on China’s social media campaign to promote its controversial Winter Olympics.
The documents list popular social media influencers and U.S. celebrities recruited by the New Jersey-based company Vippi Media agreement. The firm received 300,000 dollars from the Chinese Consulate in New York.
Nearly a dozen people and media platforms were part of the campaign that started in November, such as Twitch, Instagram, and TikTok, later exposed in January.
The famous persons shared posts promoting the sports event with the hashtags #Beijing2022, #partner, and #ad. They were not properly classified as sponsored content, as required by TikTok and Instagram.
According to the Associated Press, Jessica Brandt, a Brookings Institution expert on foreign interference and disinformation, said hiring U.S. influencers “allows them [China] to boost the reach and the resonance of their messaging to make it appear to be authentic, independent content.”
Most influencers advertised the Winter Olympics by sharing images from ceremonial events or those that provided insight into Chinese cultural norms. The event, however, faced widespread backlash following Beijing’s human rights abuses records.
The amount of money each influencer received from promoting the sports games is unknown.