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Freedom and the Media:


A Downward Spiral


By Sarah Repucci, Senior Director for Research and Analysis


Key Findings


Freedom of the media has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade.


In some of the most influential democracies in the world, populist leaders have overseen concerted attempts to throttle the independence of the media sector.


While the threats to global media freedom are real and concerning in their own right, their impact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous.


Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished.



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The fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack, and part of the assault has come from an unexpected source. Elected leaders in many democracies, who should be press freedom’s staunchest defenders, have made explicit attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that serve up favorable coverage. The trend is linked to a global decline in democracy itself: The erosion of press freedom is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.


According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World data, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade, with new forms of repression taking hold in open societies and authoritarian states alike. The trend is most acute in Europe, previously a bastion of well-established freedoms, and in Eurasia and the Middle East, where many of the world’s worst dictatorships are concentrated. If democratic powers cease to support media independence at home and impose no consequences for its restriction abroad, the free press corps could be in danger of virtual extinction.


Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished, and it is never too late to renew the demand that these rights be granted in full.


Attacks on press freedom in democracies


In some of the most influential democracies in the world, large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence. Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information. The goal is to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.


The problem has arisen in tandem with right-wing populism, which has undermined basic freedoms in many democratic countries. Populist leaders present themselves as the defenders of an aggrieved majority against liberal elites and ethnic minorities whose loyalties they question, and argue that the interests of the nation—as they define it—should override democratic principles like press freedom, transparency, and open debate.

在自由之家的世界自由报告中的自由国家中,19%(16个国家)的新闻自由得分在过去五年中有所下降。这与《世界自由》(Freedom in the world)的一个重要发现是一致的,即民主国家的政治权利和公民自由总体上正在下降。令人痛苦的是,即使民主统治已经存在了几十年,新闻自由也绝不能被视为理所当然。

Among Free countries in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, 19 percent (16 countries) have endured a reduction in their press freedom scores over the past five years. This is consistent with a key finding of Freedom in the World—that democracies in general are undergoing a decline in political rights and civil liberties. It has become painfully apparent that a free press can never be taken for granted, even when democratic rule has been in place for decades.

匈牙利的 Viktor orb n 政府和塞尔维亚的亚历山大·武契奇政府在扼杀批评性新闻方面取得了巨大成功,为其他地方的民粹主义势力开辟了道路。两位领导人都把媒体的所有权牢牢掌握在他们的亲信手中,确保影响力最大的媒体机构支持政府,并诽谤他们眼中的反对者。在匈牙利,这一进程已经向前推进了很多,近80% 的媒体为政府盟友所有。*

Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary and Aleksandar Vučić’s administration in Serbia have had great success in snuffing out critical journalism, blazing a trail for populist forces elsewhere. Both leaders have consolidated media ownership in the hands of their cronies, ensuring that the outlets with the widest reach support the government and smear its perceived opponents. In Hungary, where the process has advanced much further, nearly 80 percent of the media are owned by government allies. *

亲政府媒体的培育正在向周边国家蔓延。奥地利极右翼自由党(Freedom Party of Austria)的领导人,直到最近还是该国执政联盟的一部分,被拍到试图与俄罗斯人勾结,购买最大的全国性报纸,并在报道中注入党派偏见。过去五年,欧洲媒体得分下降与媒体的经济操纵有关(包括政府将广告投放到友好的媒体,或鼓励商业盟友购买关键媒体)的情况比世界其他地区更为普遍。这种影响和干涉策略在非洲大陆是一种相对较新的现象,自30年前柏林墙倒塌以来,非洲大陆普遍表现出对新闻自由的有力支持。

Cultivation of progovernment media is spreading to neighboring states. The leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, until recently part of that country’s ruling coalition, was caught on video attempting to collude with Russians to purchase the largest national newspaper and infuse its coverage with partisan bias. Score declines linked to economic manipulation of media—including cases in which the government directs advertising to friendly outlets or encourages business allies to buy those that are critical—were more common across Europe over the past five years than in other parts of the world. Such tactics of influence and interference are a relatively recent phenomenon on the continent, which has generally displayed strong support for press freedom since the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago.


In Israel, one of the few democracies in the Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly excoriated investigative reporters and now faces corruption charges for allegedly offering regulatory favors to two major media firms in exchange for positive coverage. Although Netanyahu has resisted efforts to formally indict and try him on these charges, the evidence suggests that the prime minister was willing to sacrifice press freedom in order to maintain political power. Many voters apparently accepted this tradeoff in the April 2019 elections, putting Netanyahu’s party and its allies in a position to form a new ruling coalition.

作为世界上人口最多的民主国家,印度也发出信号,要求政府承担责任不是新闻界的责任。执政的印度人民党支持反对"矛盾言论"的运动,与政府结盟的暴徒袭击了关键记者的家和办公室。媒体对上个月赢得连任的印度总理纳伦德拉·莫迪(Narendra Modi)进行了广泛的吹捧。有指控称,政府就媒体应该如何报道他的活动发布指令,并威胁反击的记者。政府在电视许可证的分配上也是有选择性的,有效地将不友好的媒体排除在电视广播之外。

India, the world’s most populous democracy, is also sending signals that holding the government accountable is not part of the press’s responsibility. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has supported campaigns to discourage speech that is “antinational,” and government-aligned thugs have raided critical journalists’ homes and offices. The media have become widely flattering of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won reelection last month, amid allegations that the government issues directives on how the press should cover his activities and intimidates journalists who push back. The government has also been selective in the allocation of television licenses, effectively excluding unfriendly outlets from the airwaves.


In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power. Although key news organizations remain strong and continue to produce vigorous reporting on those in office, President Donald Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in the mainstream media. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests. The US constitution provides robust protections against such actions, but President Trump’s public stance on press freedom has had a tangible impact on the global landscape. Journalists around the world now have less reason to believe that Washington will come to their aid if their basic rights are violated.


Fueling a global decline


The breakdown of global press freedom is closely related to the broader decline of democracy that Freedom House has tracked for the past 13 years. Although the press is not always the first institution to be attacked when a country’s leadership takes an antidemocratic turn, repression of free media is a strong indication that other political rights and civil liberties are in danger. Assaults on media independence are frequently associated with power grabs by new or incumbent leaders, or with entrenched regimes’ attempts to crush perceived threats to their control.

在过去的五年里,那些已经被指定为非自由之家世界自由报告中的非自由国家也是最有可能遭受新闻自由分数下降的国家,28% 的非自由国家经历了这样的下降。部分自由的国家几乎同样可能经历新闻自由下降的好处,这反映了这些中等表现者的不稳定性和影响其轨迹的复杂力量。非自由国家不断恶化的记录,加上自由国家的消极趋势,导致了全球新闻自由的整体下降。

Over the past five years, countries that were already designated as Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report were also those most likely to suffer a decline in their press freedom scores, with 28 percent of Not Free countries experiencing such a drop. Partly Free countries were almost equally likely to experience a gain as a decline in press freedom, reflecting the volatility of these middle performers and the complex forces influencing their trajectory. The worsening records of Not Free states, combined with the negative trend among Free countries, have driven the overall decline in global press freedom.

当民主国家的民粹主义领导人试图通过驯服媒体来巩固和扩大自己的成果时,老牌的专制政府却在继续收紧对不同声音的压制,因为任何对他们媒体统治地位的破坏都可能暴露官方的不当行为或揭穿官方的叙述。2018年,俄罗斯当局采取行动,屏蔽了广受欢迎的通讯应用 Telegram,因为该公司拒绝将其加密密钥交给安全官员。喀麦隆政府去年大部分时间都关闭了动荡的英语地区的互联网服务,这是对抗议活动和新生的叛乱活动的强硬反应,叛乱源于对大量英语少数民族的长期歧视。在缅甸,两名路透社(Reuters)记者被判处七年有期徒刑,此前的审判存在缺陷,法院忽视了一些明显的证据,这些证据表明,他们是被陷害的,目的是阻止他们调查针对罗辛亚少数民族的军事暴行。尽管他们最近得到了赦免,但他们并没有被免罪。

While populist leaders in democracies seek to secure and build on their gains by taming the press, established autocratic governments continue to tighten the screws on dissenting voices, as any breach in their media dominance threatens to expose official wrongdoing or debunk official narratives. In Russia in 2018, authorities moved to block the popular messaging application Telegram after the company refused to hand over its encryption keys to security officials. The government in Cameroon shut down internet service in the restive Anglophone region for most of last year, a heavy-handed reaction to protests and a nascent insurgency stemming from long-standing discrimination against the large Anglophone minority. In Myanmar, two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison after a flawed trial in which the court ignored plain evidence that they had been entrapped to halt their investigation of military atrocities against the Rohingya minority; although they were recently pardoned, they were not exonerated.

不同国家的评级下调可以归因于一系列法律、政治和经济因素,但其中一些因素更令人担忧,也更普遍。针对特定记者和媒体机构的暴力和骚扰在过去五年中新闻自由得分下降的63% 的国家中发挥了一定作用。2018年的贾马尔·哈绍吉谋杀案是最近发生的最臭名昭著的案件,但并非独一无二。2015年,萨尔瓦多记者在揭露警察虐待和法外处决的事件后,收到了死亡威胁。2017年,一名马里记者对猖獗的政治腐败直言不讳,胸部中弹。同年,一名调查当地官员谋杀案的坦桑尼亚记者失踪,他的命运至今仍是个谜。

The downgrades in various countries can be attributed to a range of legal, political, and economic factors, but some stand out as more concerning and pervasive. Violence and harassment aimed at particular journalists and media outlets have played some role in 63 percent of the countries with a press freedom score reduction over the past five years. The 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi was the most infamous recent case, but it was hardly unique. Journalists in El Salvador received death threats in 2015 after they uncovered stories of police abuse and extrajudicial killings. A Malian journalist who was outspoken about rampant political corruption was shot in the chest in 2017. Also that year, a Tanzanian journalist investigating the murders of local officials disappeared, and his fate remains a mystery.

新闻自由的趋势因地区而异。自2014年以来,美洲和亚太地区的平均新闻自由得分没有净变化,2014年撒哈拉以南非洲的平均新闻自由得分略有增长,增幅为3% 。但是,世界上最不自由的两个地区——欧亚大陆、中东和北非(MENA)的平均得分分别下降了9% 和11% ,而欧洲的新闻自由(每五个国家中有四个是自由的)则下降了8% 。

Trends in press freedom differ by region. Since 2014, there has been no net change in the average press freedom score for the Americas or Asia-Pacific, and sub-Saharan Africa has seen a slight increase of 3 percent. But the average scores in the two least free regions of the world, Eurasia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), declined by 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively, while press freedom in Europe—where four out of every five countries are Free—dropped by 8 percent.


In Eurasia and MENA, the media in the past year have faced an intensification of traditional challenges. Examples include new legislative restrictions in Belarus, further arrests and convictions in Lebanon, and heightened insecurity and fatalities in war-torn Yemen. These developments illustrate the ways in which already difficult environments can grow steadily worse in the absence of meaningful international support for media independence and other fundamental rights.


Even in the regions where average scores were more stable, press freedom has come under threat in individual countries. A new privacy law in Nepal restricts collection of the personal information of any individual, including public officials, exploiting legitimate concerns about privacy to suppress media scrutiny of political leaders’ conflicts of interest or corruption. In Pakistan, security agents have allegedly warned journalists against coverage of taboo subjects, such as abuses by the military, or given reporters instructions on how to cover specific political issues. The regime in China has worked to close off the last remaining avenues for accessing uncensored information by increasing pressure on private technology companies to police the content on their platforms more assiduously.


Guiding lights in the darkness


The picture of global press freedom is not entirely bleak. The most encouraging examples of democratic progress over the past two years—Ethiopia, Malaysia, Armenia, Ecuador, and The Gambia—have nearly all featured parallel gains in their media environments. Among these five countries, only Armenia failed to register an improvement in its press freedom score in the same year as its initial political opening in Freedom in the World. This correlation underscores once again the close relationship between media freedom and political change: Just as antidemocratic power grabs often involve attacks on independent media, a reformist leadership is defined in part by its willingness to accept criticism from a free press. And just as restrictions on media freedom frequently precede the erosion of other rights, the removal of such restrictions facilitates and catalyzes further democratic advancements.


The improvements in these countries also point to the resilience of independent journalism, even after years of repression. In Malaysia and Ecuador, the lifting of political pressure on the media allowed independent outlets to rebound from censorship and previously progovernment outlets to produce less obsequious coverage. In Ethiopia, outlets that had been operating from abroad were able to return to the country. In The Gambia, persecuted journalists returned from exile, and more locals have decided to enter the profession.


Media freedom can recover much more quickly after a period of authoritarian governance than some other elements of democracy, such as the rule of law. But it is also subject to rapid reversals. The Arab Spring provides a cautionary tale. Soon after the 2011 uprisings, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya all recorded improvements in press freedom in Freedom in the World. All have since faced setbacks. Like democracy itself, press freedom is not an end state that remains secure once it is achieved—it must be nurtured and defended against the forces that oppose it.


Supporters Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cheer as they wait for the speech of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a campaign rally.

印度印度人民党的支持者在等待印度总理纳伦德拉·莫迪在竞选集会上发表演讲时欢呼雀跃。图片来源:DIBYANGSHU sarkar / afp / getty Images。

Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cheer as they wait for a speech by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi during a campaign rally. Photo Credit: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images.


The media and democracy


While the threats to global media freedom are real and concerning in their own right, their impact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous. A free and independent media sector that can keep the population informed and hold leaders to account is as crucial for a strong and sustainable democracy as free and fair elections. Without it, citizens cannot make informed decisions about how they are ruled, and abuse of power, which is all but inevitable in any society, cannot be exposed and corrected.


A review of some of the countries that have faced potential turning points in the last year illustrates how the media’s ability to support democracy depends on their freedom to operate independently.


Journalists played a key role in the April 2019 ouster of authoritarian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria, not only by reporting on antigovernment protests but also by staging their own demonstrations when major news outlets failed to give due attention to the popular movement. However, the frequent arrests of critical journalists that took place under Bouteflika have continued since his resignation, an indication that the unfolding leadership transition may be less revolutionary than many have hoped.

在苏丹总统奥马尔·巴希尔(Omar al-Bashir)也于今年4月被免职之前,民众已经习惯了国内新闻媒体未能提供不带偏见的实质性信息。公民记者和流亡媒体填补了这一空白,他们主要通过互联网传播新闻和图片。整个冬天,人们对巴希尔暴政的失望情绪日益高涨,巴希尔也意识到了自己权力面临的威胁程度,于是他的政权开始镇压,逮捕了报道大规模抗议活动的记者,并撤销了一些外国记者的资格证书。就像在阿尔及利亚一样,记者们也举行了自己的抗议活动。巴希尔被捕后,军方指挥官试图安抚公众,宣布媒体审查制度结束,并默认增加新闻自由的看法将有助于巩固他们的控制。但记者们对军政府的这种声明持怀疑态度,他们与其他抗议者一道,要求将权力移交给能够监督真正民主开放的文职领导人。

Before Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was removed from office, also in April, the population was accustomed to domestic news outlets that failed to provide unbiased and substantive information. Citizen journalists and exile-based outlets filled the gap, disseminating news and images largely via the internet. As frustration with al-Bashir’s misrule grew throughout the winter and he perceived the extent of the threat to his power, his regime cracked down, arresting journalists who covered mass protests and revoking the credentials of some foreign reporters. As in Algeria, journalists staged their own protests. Military commanders attempted to placate the public after al-Bashir’s arrest, announcing the end of media censorship and tacitly acknowledging that a perception of increased press freedom would help consolidate their control. But journalists are skeptical of such declarations by the junta, and they have joined other protesters in pressing for a transfer of power to civilian leaders who can oversee a genuine democratic opening.


In Venezuela, media repression has increased since the opposition-controlled National Assembly designated Juan Guaidó as acting president in January. Combined with repeated electricity blackouts, this pressure from the authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro has severely hampered efforts by media outlets in the country to inform the public about political events and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. But a handful of resilient journalists have continued to disseminate news through social media, the internet, and international partners. One reporting group has developed technology to record video with low bandwidth on mobile devices and then automatically delete it after transfer to a secure server, reducing the risk of reprisals against journalists who are detained and searched. Journalists’ ability to document opposition activities as well as the brutality of the regime response has helped to galvanize international support for the democracy movement.


In order to address the information gap on the ground in Venezuela, some media outlets have also forged direct relationships with subsets of the population. Journalists enter communities that have had limited access to objective news under Maduro and report on local stories. This fosters public trust and makes residents more receptive to other impartial news. Despite these valiant efforts, however, the production of reliable, objective news that is accessible to Venezuelans remains a daunting challenge.

在过去的一年中,亚美尼亚在民主过渡方面取得了更大的进步,抗议活动导致了新的选举和一个改革派的新政府。与苏丹一样,大多数电视频道最初都避免报道大规模示威活动。但包括 Civilnet 和 Azatutyun 在内的一小部分独立媒体能够提供稳定的深度报道,包括直播和熟练使用社交媒体。信息流动有助于人民运动获得动力,增加压力的建立力量和合法化的崛起的新领导人。这些渠道也有助于阻止前政权散布的虚假信息。

Armenia has made far more progress in its democratic transition in the past year, with protests leading to fresh elections and a new, reformist government. As in Sudan, most television channels initially avoided covering the mass demonstrations. But a small contingent of independent outlets, including Civilnet and Azatutyun, was able to provide steady in-depth reporting, including live streams and skillful use of social media. The information flow helped the popular movement to gain momentum, increasing pressure on establishment forces and legitimizing the rising new leadership. These outlets also helped stem disinformation spread by the former regime.


There is an obvious tension between journalists who are attempting to perform their proper democratic function and antidemocratic regimes that are determined to retain power. The innovative and courageous work of independent reporters offers hope that even in the most desperate circumstances, those who are committed to distributing information in the public interest can find a way. But these journalists alone cannot address the needs of billions of people who still have access to little more than their government’s narrative and must rely on their own instincts and observations to assess the claims of corrupt and abusive leaders.


Further analysis


This essay is the first in a series of four on the links between media freedom and democracy.

在《中国媒体影响力全球化对民主的影响》(The Implications for Democracy of China's Globalizing Media Influence)一书中,莎拉·库克(Sarah Cook)探讨了中国共产党通过参与新闻报道、内容传播、公开辩论,以及在某些情况下参与海外选举政治,来扩大其海外影响。即使在北京尚未试图破坏言论自由和信息获取自由的情况下,也在为未来的干预奠定基础,这种干预对民主有着潜在的影响。

In “The Implications for Democracy of China’s Globalizing Media Influence,” Sarah Cook looks at the ways in which the Chinese Communist Party is expanding its overseas influence operations through involvement in news reporting, content dissemination, public debate, and in some cases electoral politics outside China. Even in settings where Beijing has not yet attempted to undermine free expression and access to information, the groundwork is being laid for future interference, with insidious implications for democracy.

在《拉拢媒体的非自由派工具箱》一书中,Zselyke Csaky 分析了民主选举但非自由派领导人用来拉拢媒体的工具箱。她研究了塞尔维亚和匈牙利的法律、法外和经济策略,这两个国家今年都拒绝了《部分自由在世界》。文章还描述了媒介环境容易受到非自由合作的条件。

In “The Illiberal Toolbox for Co-opting the Media,” Zselyke Csaky analyzes the toolbox that democratically elected but illiberal leaders use to co-opt the media. She examines the legal, extralegal, and economic tactics deployed in Serbia and Hungary, both of which declined to Partly Free in Freedom in the World this year. The essay also describes the conditions that make media environments vulnerable to illiberal co-optation.

在《为什么社交媒体仍然值得拯救》一书中,阿德里安·沙赫巴兹(Adrian Shahbaz)写道,谷歌(Google)和 Facebook 等主要科技平台对全球在线媒体生态系统的破坏程度,无论是好是坏。本文分析了专制主义者和宣传者如何操纵数字媒体破坏民主,并提出了科技公司和新闻媒体之间的新伙伴关系,以支持高质量的新闻报道。

In “Why Social Media Are Still Worth Saving,” Adrian Shahbaz writes about the extent to which major technology platforms such as Google and Facebook have disrupted the online media ecosystem, for better and worse, around the globe. The essay analyzes how authoritarians and propagandists manipulate digital media to undermine democracy, and proposes a new partnership between tech companies and news media to support high-quality journalism.




The following recommendations for policymakers in democratic nations will help ensure the sustainability of independent media worldwide:


Ensure that their actions do not excuse or inspire violations of press freedom. Democratic nations have a particularly important role to play in maintaining media freedom. Words matter, and when US officials verbally attack the press or fail to swiftly and vigorously condemn acts of repression such as Khashoggi’s murder, it sends a signal to undemocratic leaders around the world that assaults on the press and crimes against journalists are permissible.


Take strong and immediate action against any violations of media freedom globally through press statements, phone calls, meetings, letters, and the imposition of targeted sanctions on perpetrators. This includes speaking out against violence against journalists and authorities’ failure to identify and prosecute attackers, restrictions on media access, blocking of websites, and censorship on particular topics.


Stand up publicly for the value of a free press, and support civic education that will inform the next generation. Press freedom is one of the most fundamental pillars of American democracy, and constitutional protections in the United States are stronger than in any other country in the world. Citizens could easily forget this amid media mudslinging and incendiary commentary. Political leaders and teachers should reiterate the extent to which we all benefit from professional journalists who hold those in power to account.


Ensure that foreign policy and assistance prioritizes support for democratic principles, including media freedom, as the foundation of national security and economic prosperity. The goal of foreign assistance is to bring recipient countries to the point that they no longer need it. In that sense, it is shortsighted for donor governments to invest funding overseas without shoring up press freedom. National security and economic prosperity are strongest in nations where democratic rights are protected, and a free press is a key watchdog of democracy. Foreign aid specifically focused on bolstering independent media by providing technical training and emergency assistance is especially needed given the threats journalists currently face. Countries that have experienced recent expansions in press freedom, such as Angola, Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Ecuador, are particularly vulnerable to backsliding and require special focus.


Support social media as an alternative outlet for free expression in repressive environments. Innovative alternatives to state-controlled media regularly spring up on social media, including recently in Venezuela, Armenia, and Sudan. Related technology can be used to circumvent censorship and keep reporters anonymous where needed. Donor agencies should provide funding for technology that increases journalistic freedom.



*"Mindent bebor t a fidesz-k zeli media",m rt k,2019年4月25日, https://mertek.atlatszo.hu/Mindent-beborit-a-fidesz-kozeli-media/ 。

* “Mindent beborít a Fidesz-közeli media,” Mérték, April 25, 2019, https://mertek.atlatszo.hu/mindent-beborit-a-fidesz-kozeli-media/.


The Implications for Democracy of China’s Globalizing Media Influence

东亚高级研究分析师 Sarah Cook

By Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for East Asia


A newspaper consumer reads a copy of China's Africa edition of its daily newspaper infront of a news stand in Nairobi, Kenya.

肯尼亚首都内罗毕,一名报纸消费者在报摊前阅读北京官方报纸《中国日报》的非洲版。图片来源:TONY karumba / 法新社 / 盖蒂图片社。

A newspaper consumer reads a copy of the Africa edition of Beijing’s state-run China Daily newspaper in front of a newsstand in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo Credit: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images.


Key Findings


The Chinese government, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and various proxies have rapidly expanded their influence over media production and dissemination channels abroad. As a result, the CCP has enhanced its ability to interfere aggressively in other countries, should it choose to do so.


Chinese authorities influence news media content around the world through three primary strategies: promoting the CCP’s narratives, suppressing critical viewpoints, and managing content delivery systems.


These efforts have already undercut key features of democratic governance and best practices for media freedom by undermining fair competition, interfering with Chinese diaspora communities, weakening the rule of law, and establishing channels for political meddling.


Actions by policymakers and media development donors in democracies will play a critical role in coming years in countering the potential negative impact of Beijing’s foreign media influence campaigns.

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Media coverage of China’s increasing global presence has often focused on the country’s rapidly growing economic impact, and potentially negative implications for foreign countries. These anxieties, while deserving of sober consideration and policy responses, threaten to overshadow the risks to democracy posed by the expanding global influence of the authoritarian CCP—including through its efforts to harness media outside China to advance the party’s agenda. The CCP has developed the world’s most multilayered, dynamic, and sophisticated apparatus of media control at home, while vastly expanding its ability to influence media reporting, content dissemination, public debate, and in some cases, electoral politics, outside China. And where the potential for undermining press freedom has not been activated yet, the groundwork is being laid for future influence, if—or more likely when—Beijing decides to deploy it.


The expansion of the CCP’s foreign media influence is a global campaign, and the United States is among its targets. The results have already affected the news consumption of millions of Americans. Moreover, the varied and aggressive ways in which the CCP seeks to influence media narratives abroad undermine democratic governance and electoral competition in other countries, including US allies like Taiwan. The cumulative effects of these efforts, if unchecked, could have far-reaching implications for democratic governance, press freedom, and US influence worldwide.


The many facets of Communist Party overseas media influence


The CCP’s global media influence campaigns are multifaceted. Traditionally, they have sought to promote positive views of China and a benign perspective of the CCP’s authoritarian regime; encourage investment in China and openness to Chinese investment and strategic engagement abroad; and suppress or curtail negative coverage of China’s political system. In recent years, a new narrative has presented China’s authoritarian governance style as a model for developing countries, and in some cases simultaneously challenged the attractiveness of both democracy and US international leadership.


Chinese authorities influence news media content around the world through three primary strategies: promoting the CCP’s narratives, suppressing critical viewpoints, and managing content delivery systems.


Promoting CCP narratives

在2016年的一次讲话中,中共领导人习近平告诉官方媒体,"无论读者在哪里,观众在哪里,宣传报道都必须伸出触角。" [1]早在习近平升任中共中央总书记之前,中国政府就已经开始投资数十亿美元,扩大国有媒体的全球影响力。通过各种新闻发布伙伴关系和社交媒体,中国官方媒体的内容现在已经覆盖了无数国家和语言的数亿人。努力更深入地渗透外国媒体市场和传播中共偏爱的叙事没有显示出任何衰退的迹象。2018年11月,英国《金融时报》的一项调查发现,中国官方电视台中央电视台(CCTV)向1700家外国新闻机构提供免费内容。[2]仅在2018年9月至11月,中国官方的新华社就与澳大利亚、白俄罗斯、老挝、印度和孟加拉国的通讯社签署了新闻交流协议。

In a 2016 speech, CCP leader Xi Jinping told state media, “Wherever the readers are, wherever the viewers are, that is where propaganda reports must extend their tentacles.”[1] Even prior to Xi’s ascension to the top of the Communist Party, the Chinese government had begun investing billions of dollars to expand the global reach of state media outlets. Through a variety of news distribution partnerships and through social media, Chinese state media content now reaches hundreds of millions of people in numerous countries and languages. Efforts to more deeply penetrate foreign media markets and spread preferred CCP narratives show no sign of ebbing. A November 2018 Financial Times investigation found that the Chinese state-run television broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) provides free content to 1,700 foreign news organizations.[2] Between September and November 2018 alone, China’s official Xinhua News Agency signed news exchange agreements with wire services in Australia, Belarus, Laos, India, and Bangladesh.

中共还通过代理人和盟友人物,包括中国外交官、友好的媒体所有者和记者,以及在中国有商业利益的外国政客,在外国媒体上嵌入自己的叙述。例如,新西兰议员 Todd McClay 在2017年参加了中国人民党组织的一次对话,他最近称新疆的劳改营为"职业培训中心",呼应了中国政府用来为拘留和政治灌输超过100万维吾尔人和其他穆斯林少数民族辩护的术语。同样,德国前总理格哈德·施罗德(Gerhard schr der)在2018年接受路透社(Reuters)采访时,将大规模拘留事件斥为"八卦"。施罗德离职后曾帮助德国企业与中国官员取得联系,从中获利。尤其是在发展中国家,中共的对外宣传努力似乎对提升或保持中国和习近平个人的正面形象产生了一定影响。[3]

The CCP also embeds its narratives in foreign media through proxies and allied figures, including Chinese diplomats, friendly media owners and journalists, and foreign politicians with business interests in China. For example, New Zealand member of Parliament Todd McClay, who attended a CCP-organized dialogue in 2017, recently referred to reeducation camps in Xinjiang as “vocational training centers,” echoing the terminology used by the Chinese government to justify the detention and political indoctrination of over one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. Similarly, former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder—who has profited after leaving office by aiding German companies in their contacts with Chinese officials—dismissed the mass detentions as “gossip” in a 2018 interview with Reuters. In the developing world in particular, the CCP’s foreign propaganda efforts appear to have had some effect in boosting or retaining a positive image of China, and Xi Jinping personally.[3]


Suppressing critical viewpoints


The CCP and its agents, allies, and proxies also work to suppress critical coverage of China abroad. Chinese diplomats downplay negative coverage of China in op-eds and media appearances, particularly on topics like mass detentions in Xinjiang or the troubles facing China’s economy. Diplomats have repeatedly engaged in outright harassment of journalists in order to curb criticism, as in early 2019, when Chinese diplomats in Sweden and Russia intimidated reporters who had written critically about the country’s economy, or in support of democracy in Taiwan.[4] The Chinese government and its proxies also discourage investigative journalism into the dark underbelly of modern China or the CCP’s overseas political influence efforts by obstructing the work of foreign correspondents in China, and threatening foreign journalists with costly defamation suits in courts based in their home countries.


The CCP has also successfully co-opted media owners, who then marginalize critical reporting in their own outlets, notably in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and outlets serving the Chinese diaspora. Occasionally, this extends to English-language media,[5] as occurred in September 2018 when a partially Chinese-owned newspaper in South Africa discontinued a weekly column after its author wrote about abuses in Xinjiang.[6] Indirect pressure is also applied via proxies—including advertisers, satellite firms, technology companies, and foreign governments—which take action to prevent or punish the publication of content critical of Beijing, while undermining the financial viability of news outlets critical of the CCP.[7] Separately, cyberattacks and physical assaults that are not conclusively traceable to central Chinese authorities but serve the party’s aims have taken place.


Managing content delivery systems

最后,在过去的五年里,向新闻消费者提供内容的技术为中国政府在海外的影响力开辟了新的途径。在非洲,中国电视发行公司 startimes 拥有决定观众可以访问哪些电视台的权力。该公司已成为肯尼亚、尼日利亚、乌干达、赞比亚和其他地区从模拟电视向数字电视过渡的关键参与者。尽管是私有企业,但 StarTimes 得益于与中国政府的密切关系和偶尔的补贴。与此同时,中国科技巨头腾讯的微信即时通讯服务,在中国无处不在,现在估计有1亿到2亿人在国外。最近的证据表明,根据中国政府的标准,这些通信正受到越来越多的监控和审查。

Finally, over the past five years, technologies that deliver content to news consumers have opened new avenues for Chinese government influence abroad. In Africa, the Chinese television distribution firm StarTimes—which has become a key player in the transition from analog to digital television in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and elsewhere—holds the power to determine which stations its viewers can access. Although privately owned, StarTimes has benefited from a close relationship with the Chinese government and occasional subsidies. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giant Tencent’s WeChat instant messaging service, which is ubiquitous in China, now reaches an estimated 100 to 200 million people outside the country. Recent evidence suggests these communications are increasingly monitored and censored according to Chinese government standards.


Chinese state media’s increasing number of news distribution deals, Chinese diplomats’ aggressive acts of media suppression, and the institutionalization of Chinese content delivery systems abroad point to escalations in the ability—and willingness—of Chinese officials to undermine independent news coverage abroad, and ultimately weaken the watchdog role played by media in democratic settings.


Implications for democratic governance and media freedom globally


The strategies Chinese officials, state media, and other actors employ to exercise influence over media around the world have the potential to undermine key features of democratic governance and best practices for media freedom. In some cases, this potential is already being realized.


Flouting transparency


Chinese state media publications distributed in other countries routinely omit any mention of government links that would signal their origin to uninitiated news consumers. Indeed, it is precisely because news consumers in many countries are typically not attracted to or convinced by Chinese government propaganda that layers of obfuscation are employed to distance content from its authoritarian origins.

因此,中国官方媒体在广告中使用了欺骗性的标语。例如,《人民日报》在其 Facebook 页面上向潜在的外国追随者吹嘘自己是"中国最大的报纸",却没有提到它是中共的官方喉舌。这种虚伪的自我认同延伸到付费的平面广告软文。官方媒体《中国日报》(China Daily)的《中国观察》(China Watch)增刊已在30个国家的主流媒体上发表,包括《华盛顿邮报》(Washington Post)、《纽约时报》(New York Times)和《悉尼先驱晨报》(Sydney Morning herald)。该增刊很少明确提及这家中国媒体的官方。

Chinese state media thus employ deceptive taglines in their advertising. The People’s Daily, for example, touts itself to potential foreign followers of its Facebook page as “the biggest newspaper in China,” making no mention of the fact that it is the CCP’s official mouthpiece. Such disingenuous self-identification extends to paid print advertorials. The state-run China Daily’s “China Watch” supplement, which has been published in mainstream media outlets across 30 countries[8] —including in the Washington Post, New York Times, and the Sydney Morning Herald—rarely includes explicit mention of the Chinese outlet’s official ties.


In many cases, this lack of transparency extends to the economic arrangements surrounding various activities, be it how much China Daily is paying for each advertorial, how many and which journalists travel to China on government-paid trips, or what financial benefits news exchanges provide to each party.


These CCP efforts to conceal the origin, scale, and nature of Chinese state media involvement abroad compromise the integrity of resulting public debate, and erode cultures of transparency at outside media operations.


Undermining competition


The CCP executes a variety of strategies that undermine fair competition between state-owned or friendly news outlets and critical ones, often reducing the latter’s financial viability.

中国政府对那些被视为至关重要的网站进行阻挠或处罚,除了限制它们的受众,还可能导致股价下跌,并削减广告收入。例如,2012年《纽约时报》中文网络版被屏蔽,导致广告收入减少,该报股价一夜之间下跌了20% 。中国政府代表还向企业施压,要求它们不要在关键网点上刊登广告。由于这些努力,香港《苹果日报》(Apple Daily)失去了利润丰厚的房地产行业和两家伦敦投资银行的广告合同。2019年,香港前行政长官梁振英(CY Leung)对《南华早报》剩余的广告客户进行了尖锐的公开谴责。梁振英目前是内地一家政府咨询机构的副主席。[9]驻中国的行动者对海外华人或国际媒体发动破坏性的网络攻击——一些关键目标经常遭受这种攻击——也使资金短缺的媒体承担了财务成本,这些媒体必须为清理和预防工作买单。

Chinese government obstruction or imposition of penalties on outlets viewed as critical, in addition to limiting their audience, can prompt stock losses and dent income from advertising. The 2012 blocking of the Chinese-language web edition of the New York Times, for example, resulted in lost advertising revenue and a 20 percent overnight drop in the paper’s stock value. Chinese government representatives also pressure businesses not to place advertisements in critical outlets. As a result of such efforts, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily lost advertising contracts from players in the lucrative real estate industry and two London-based investment banks. In 2019, the paper’s remaining advertisers have faced strident public denunciations from former Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung, currently the vice chairman of a mainland government advisory body.[9] Damaging cyberattacks by China-based actors against overseas Chinese or international media—a regular occurrence for some key targets—also impose financial costs on cash-strapped outlets, which must pay for clean-up and prevention efforts.

与竞争对手相比,中国政府及其合作伙伴还找到了其它方式,为海外的中国官方媒体提供其它优势。例如,在监督了非洲许多国家从模拟电视向数字电视的过渡之后,StarTimes 以牺牲独立的国际新闻台为代价,优先考虑中国官方媒体频道的一揽子服务。在肯尼亚、乌干达和尼日利亚,包含 BBC 国际广播等频道的电视套餐比当地频道和中国官方媒体的基本版本花费更多。更广泛地说,随着中国政府扩大对外国媒体行业的援助和投资,它往往更青睐国有媒体,而不是独立的私营竞争对手,这反映了中国的媒体格局。[10]在其他情况下,中国官员明显的幕后压力导致了一些批评性的媒体渠道,如总部位于美国的新唐人电视台电视台,被剥夺了进入具有新闻价值的场所ーー如联合国大会ーー的记者证,而中国的官方媒体则保留了报道权。

The Chinese government and its partners have also found ways to provide other advantages to Chinese state media abroad relative to competitors. For example, after overseeing the transition from analog to digital television in a number of countries in Africa, StarTimes has prioritized Chinese state media channels in its package offerings at the expense of independent international news stations. In Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, television packages that include channels like BBC World Service cost more than basic versions with local channels and Chinese state media. More generally, as Beijing has expanded its aid and investment in foreign media sectors, it has tended to favor state-owned outlets over independent, private competitors, mirroring the media landscape in China.[10] In other instances, apparent behind-the-scenes pressure by Chinese officials has resulted in critical media outlets like the US-based New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) being deprived of press credentials to newsworthy venues—like the UN General Assembly[11] —while Chinese state-media have retained reporting access.


Interfering with diaspora communities


Twenty years ago, many Chinese in the diaspora got their news from relatively independent papers or broadcasting operations based out of Hong Kong or Taiwan. Today, Chinese state media or pro-Beijing private outlets are more influential, and thus more able to encourage diaspora voters to hold perspectives similar to Beijing’s and to back policies in their home countries that are advantageous to the CCP.

在美国,中共影响华裔美国人消费的媒体的能力在有线电视市场尤其明显,相对于台湾电视台 ETTV 和美国的 NTDTV,中央电视台占据了主导地位。[12]有关中国对美国有线电视公司施加幕后压力的报道,以及新唐人电视台(NTDTV)相对于中央电视台(CCTV)的在线受欢迎程度表明,在形成这种等级制度中,除了市场力量之外,还有。[13]中国官员还与总部位于美国的私营中文媒体的利益相关者建立伙伴关系。[14]

In the United States, the CCP’s ability to influence media consumed by Chinese Americans is particularly evident in the cable television market, which CCTV dominates relative to the Taiwanese station ETTV and the US-based NTDTV.[12] Reports of behind-the-scenes Chinese pressure on US cable companies and the online popularity of stations like NTDTV relative to CCTV indicate that something other than market forces are at play in shaping this hierarchy.[13] Chinese officials also cultivate partnerships with stakeholders in privately owned, US-based Chinese-language media outfits.[14]

中共当局对澳大利亚的中文媒体施加了巨大的影响力,除了持不同政见的团体以外,澳大利亚的大多数此类出版物都是亲北京的。[15]去年,中国驻悉尼领事馆的外交官威胁当地一个委员会,禁止《中国时报》赞助中国新年活动,并说服至少10家企业撤下他们的广告。[16]中共对加拿大媒体市场的干涉,被环球华文出版社(Global Chinese Press)的两名记者分别解雇,原因是他们发表的内容被高管认为令北京不快。一位中国学者表示,在新西兰,中共长期以来一直在努力吸收海外人士(包括他们对当地政治的报道) ,这使得海外人士处于一种状态,"中国社会只能现实地希望通过得到北京批准的个人,让自己的成员获得政治代表权。" [17]

CCP authorities exert enormous influence over the Chinese-language Australian media, where most such publications, with notable exceptions run by dissident communities, are pro-Beijing.[15] The few independent diaspora publications face direct obstructions to their operations by Chinese officials, as occurred last year, when diplomats from the Chinese consulate in Sydney bullied a local council into banning the Vision China Times from sponsoring a Chinese New Year event and convinced at least ten businesses to pull their advertisements.[16] CCP interference in Canada’s media market was exposed by the separate firings of two journalists at the Global Chinese Press after they published content deemed by executives to be displeasing to Beijing. In New Zealand, the CCP’s long-term efforts to co-opt diaspora outlets—and with them coverage of local politics—has left the diaspora in a state, according to one Chinese scholar, where “the Chinese community can only realistically aspire to political representation by its own members through individuals approved by Beijing.”[17]

随着微信在侨民中的受欢迎程度不断扩大,以及政客们相应地使用微信服务与侨民进行沟通,中共对国外新闻传播的控制也在进一步加强。在加拿大,微信审查人员删除了一名国会议员发给赞扬香港2014年香港佔领运动抗议者的信息,操纵了有关华为高管 Wanzhou 被捕的新闻报道的传播,并阻止了媒体对中国政府腐败和领导官员的更广泛报道。在美国,华裔美国人看到微信上的帖子在有关当地亚裔美国人政治问题的群体对话中被封杀。在澳大利亚,最近一项针对散居海外的华人新闻来源的研究发现,中文新闻提供商的微信频道对中国的政治报道微不足道。令人难以置信的是,在2017年3月至8月期间,没有一个微信频道发表过一篇关于中国政治的文章,尽管去年秋天召开了重要的十九大。

CCP control of news distribution outside China is further increasing as WeChat’s popularity expands in the diaspora, and as politicians correspondingly use the service to communicate with Chinese diaspora constituents. In Canada, WeChat censors deleted a member of Parliament’s message to constituents praising Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protesters, manipulated dissemination of news reports related to Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, and blocked broader media coverage of Chinese government corruption and leading officials. In the United States, Chinese Americans have seen WeChat posts silenced in group conversations about local Asian American political issues. In Australia, a recent study of news sources available to the Chinese diaspora found negligible political coverage of China on the WeChat channels of Chinese-language news providers. Incredibly, between March and August 2017, none of the WeChat channels published a single article on Chinese politics, despite the run-up to the important 19th Party Congress that fall.


Establishing channels for political meddling

尽管中国政府利用媒体影响干预选举的努力有限,但最近出现了一些重大事件。在台湾,来自中国大陆的几则"假新闻"和篡改图片的例子在社交媒体上广泛传播,其中一些被台湾新闻台转载并报道为事实。[18]一些观察人士认为,这些活动以及其他因素对2018年11月的地方选举产生了影响,当时中国政府不喜欢的执政党遭受了多次意外的失败。[19]2019年4月,台湾媒体报道称,在明年大选之前,疑似大陆政府代理人暗中提议购买热门的亲台湾 Facebook 页面。[20]网上也出现了支持统一观点的直播流媒体招聘广告。

Although Chinese government efforts to use media influence for electoral meddling have been limited, important incidents have recently emerged. In Taiwan, several examples of “fake news” stories and doctored images originating in China tainting the reputation of the Taiwanese government have spread widely on social media, with some picked up and reported as fact by Taiwanese news stations.[18] Some observers believe such activities—alongside other factors—had an impact on local elections in November 2018 when the ruling party, which is disfavored by Beijing, suffered a number of surprising losses.[19] In April 2019, Taiwanese media reported that suspected Chinese government agents had made quiet offers to buy popular pro-Taiwan Facebook pages ahead of next year’s general elections.[20] Recruitment advertisements for live streamers with pro-unification views have also emerged online.

在2018年美国中期选举的准备阶段,中央人民党也努力争取美国选民的支持,特别是大豆种植户。今年7月,中国国有电视台旗下的面向外国的中国全球电视网(CGTN)发布了一段两分钟的动画视频,讲述了双边贸易紧张局势对美国大豆产业的影响,最后以这样一个问题作为结尾:"一旦特朗普和共和党的钱袋受到打击,那里的选民会支持他们吗?" 今年9月,纽约得梅因纪事报的印刷版增加了一篇中国观察的增刊,文章描述了贸易战将如何伤害美国大豆种植者—— 内容比中国观察的插页更具针对性和政治性。尽管这些努力的影响有限,但它们反映出中国官方媒体为了影响美国选民,愿意利用现有的内容传播渠道。

The run-up to the 2018 midterm elections in the United States also saw CCP-backed efforts to reach American voters—in particular, soybean farmers. In July, the China Global Television Network (CGTN), the foreign-facing arm of China’s state-owned broadcaster, released a two-minute animated video about the impact of bilateral trade tensions on the US soybean industry, concluding with the question, “Will voters there turn out to support Trump and the Republicans once they get hit in the pocketbooks?” In September, the print edition of the Des Moines Register included a China Watch supplement with articles describing how a trade war would harm American soybean farmers—content far more targeted and politicized than is typical for the China Watch insert. While the impact of these efforts was limited, they reflect willingness by Chinese state media to use established avenues of content dissemination in an effort to influence American voters.

这些例子主要涉及在 Facebook、 LINE 和 YouTube 等非中国人拥有的社交媒体平台上进行宣传和散布虚假信息。但是,在马来西亚、蒙古和澳大利亚等国,移民社群和非华语人士越来越多地使用中国的微信应用程序,为中共未来干预选举创造了肥沃的基础。正如澳大利亚教授约翰·菲茨杰拉德最近指出的,"我们正在进入一个未知的领域。微信不是用来在民主国家工作的。"

These examples primarily involved propaganda and disinformation spreading on non-Chinese owned social media platforms like Facebook, LINE, and YouTube. But the growing use of the China-based WeChat application by both diaspora communities and non-Chinese speakers in countries like Malaysia, Mongolia, and Australia, creates a fertile foundation for future CCP electoral meddling. As Australian professor John Fitzgerald recently noted, “We are entering uncharted territory. WeChat was not designed to work in a democracy.”


Undermining the rule of law


When attempting to restrict the operating space for independent diaspora or offshore Chinese media, Chinese officials have undermined the rule of law in other countries by maliciously harnessing court systems and flouting conflict-of-interest and other standards meant to ensure honest business practices.


Chinese officials have applied pressure on critics in foreign media through those countries’ own court systems, and at times have pressured local officials to aid them. In Southeast Asia, several cases have emerged involving the Sound of Hope radio network. Based in the United States and founded by practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual group, which is banned in China, the station broadcasts uncensored news about rights abuses and corruption in China, among other debate-based and cultural programming. In Thailand, police, reportedly at the urging of the Chinese government, recently detained a Taiwanese national who had helped facilitate the station’s broadcasts into China. The case was ongoing as of May 2019 and marked the third of its kind in the region; two similar cases have taken place in Indonesia and Vietnam—the latter resulting in two men being imprisoned.


Journalists and news outlets reporting critically about Chinese government actions or pro-Beijing officials outside mainland China also face threats of or actual defamation lawsuits. Leung, the former Hong Kong executive who has been denouncing Apple Daily advertisers, has brought a defamation suit in Hong Kong against a journalist with a separate outlet who wrote about his possible links to organized crime. In the Czech Republic, lawyers representing the powerful Chinese energy and financial conglomerate CEFC sent letters threatening lawsuits over articles linking the firm’s owner to Chinese military intelligence.[21] In 2018, Chinese Australians with ties to the Chinese government filed defamation suits against two media companies over a high-profile investigative documentary examining the CCP’s political influence in Australia.

在其它情况下,中国对外国通信行业的投资引发了人们对利益冲突、腐败和有问题的竞标行为的担忧。在台湾,一家亲大陆的传媒大亨所拥有的公司试图收购一家大型有线电视公司的股份,这引发了人们的担忧,即这种交叉持股将导致有线电视运营商利用亲北京的电视台,而牺牲独立或亲独立的电视台的利益。(经过激烈的公开辩论,该交易被监管机构否决。[22]在赞比亚,赞比亚国家广播公司(ZNBC)与中国服务提供商 StarTimes 合作创办了一家合资企业ーー topstar ーー据报道违反了国内法律,禁止任何单一媒体实体同时拥有内容传输和内容创作许可证。该交易也未经赞比亚国家广播公司董事会或赞比亚议会批准,导致人们怀疑其存在腐败问题。

In other instances, Chinese investments in foreign communications sectors have raised concerns about conflicts of interest, corruption, and questionable bidding practices. In Taiwan, attempts by a company owned by a China-friendly media tycoon to purchase stakes in a major cable company sparked fears that such cross-ownership would cause cable providers to advantage pro-Beijing stations at the expense of independent or pro-independence ones. (Following vigorous public debate, the deal was rejected by regulators.[22]) In Zambia, a partnership between the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Chinese service provider StarTimes to create a joint venture—TopStar—reportedly violated domestic laws against any single media entity having licenses for both content transmission and content creation. The deal was also made without approval from either ZNBC’s board or Zambia’s parliament, leading to suspicions of corruption.


Future trajectory


Having an economically powerful authoritarian-led state rapidly expand its influence over media production and dissemination channels in other countries is a relatively new phenomenon. The current impact of Chinese media influence operations on democratic institutions and practice remains relatively limited, although it disproportionately affects diaspora communities. Nevertheless, the sheer scale, economic clout, and expanding network of relationships involved highlights the CCP’s enhanced ability to interfere aggressively abroad, should it choose to do so. In addition, Beijing has demonstrated a willingness to ignore or violate outright diplomatic norms, human rights protections, and laws of foreign countries to achieve its ends.


However, the ability of the CCP to achieve its desired goals through its foreign media influence campaigns is still contested. Critical reporting about Chinese government actions within and outside of China appears with regularity, reaching large audiences. A number of independent Chinese-language media in Hong Kong, the United States, and elsewhere have become more professionalized and influential over the past several years. Civil society groups, media owners, and former officials in countries where Chinese influence is expanding have begun to speak out and urge their governments to uphold good governance standards when considering Chinese investment in communications infrastructure.


Looking ahead, individuals and organizations wishing to explore principled responses to the threat to global freedom and democracy posed by China’s globalizing media influence should focus on investigating and exposing stealthy and deceptive activities, increasing the sophistication and scale of policy debates, and upholding local legal standards.




The following recommendations for policymakers in democratic nations will help counter the potential negative impact of Beijing’s foreign media influence campaigns:

增加透明度。外国政府应采取或执行政策,加强有关中国媒体在本国影响活动的公开信息。这可能包括对付费广告、所有权结构以及与中国政府部门的其他经济联系的报道要求。在美国,司法部应该把最近的这种要求扩大到 CGTN 和新华社,扩大到其他官方媒体或相关媒体,特别是中文的中央电视台。

Increase transparency. Foreign governments should adopt or enforce policies that enhance publicly available information about Chinese media influence activities in their countries. This could include reporting requirements for spending on paid advertorials, ownership structures, and other economic ties to Chinese government actors. In the United States, the Department of Justice should expand recent such requests to CGTN and Xinhua to other state-media or linked outlets, especially the Chinese-language CCTV.


Sanction diplomats. When Chinese diplomats and security agents overstep their bounds and attempt to interfere with media reporting in other countries, the host government should vigorously protest, conveying that such behavior may violate diplomatic protocols. If the act in question repeats or is particularly egregious, the host government should consider declaring offenders persona non grata.


Scrutinize international WeChat censorship and surveillance. Foreign parliaments should hold hearings to better understand the scope, nature, and impact of politicized censorship and surveillance on Tencent’s WeChat platform, then explore avenues for pressuring the company to uphold the rights to free expression and privacy of users living in democratic countries. Politicians who choose to use WeChat to communicate with constituents should monitor messaging closely to detect any manipulations, register accounts with international phone numbers when possible, and republish messages on parallel international social media platforms.


Support independent overseas Chinese media. Media development funders should make sure to include exile and diaspora media in funding, training, and other assistance opportunities for Chinese-language media. Foreign governments should proactively engage with such media, providing interviews and exploring other potential partnerships, while resisting pressure from Chinese diplomats to marginalize them. Funders should provide technical and financial support for responding to cyberattacks.



1. David Bandurski,《习近平如何看待新闻》 ,《中国媒体工程》 ,2016年3月3日, https://medium.com/China-Media-Project/How-the-president-Views-the-News-2bee482e1d48。

[1]David Bandurski, “How Xi Jinping Views the News,” China Media Project, March 3, 2016, https://medium.com/china-media-project/how-the-president-views-the-news-2bee482e1d48.

中国与世界:北京如何传播信息》 ,金融时报,2018年7月12日, https://www.ft.com/content/f5d00a86-3296-11e8-b5bf-23cb17fd1498。

[2]Emily Feng, “China and the world: how Beijing spreads the message,” Financial Times, July 12, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/f5d00a86-3296-11e8-b5bf-23cb17fd1498.

[3]凯蒂·斯诺·贝拉德,《中国在非洲:中国媒体扩张对非洲舆论的影响分析》 ,载《国际新闻政治杂志》2016年第21卷第446-471页。

[3]Catie Snow Bailard, “China in Africa: An Analysis of the Effect of Chinese Media Expansion on African Public Opinion,” The International Journal of Press/Politics 2016 Vol 21(4) 446-471.

[4]"中国媒体公告:腾讯串通,监控升级,Reddit 操纵(第134号)"自由之家,2019年3月24日, https://freedomhouse.org/China-Media/China-Media-Bulletin-tencent-complicity-surveillance-upgrades-Reddit-manipulation-no-134。

[4]“China Media Bulletin: Tencent complicity, surveillance upgrades, Reddit manipulation (No. 134)” Freedom House, March 24, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/china-media/china-media-bulletin-tencent-complicity-surveillance-upgrades-reddit-manipulation-no-134.

中国审查制度的长长阴影:共产党的媒体限制如何影响世界各地的新闻机构》 ,国际媒体援助中心,2013年10月22日, http://www.cima.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/cima-china_sarah%20cook.pd

[5]Sarah Cook, “The Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship: How the Communist Party’s Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets Around the World,” Center for International Media Assistance, October 22, 2013, http://www.cima.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/CIMA-China_Sarah%20Cook.pdf.

[6] Azad Essa,"中国在收买非洲媒体的沉默",《外交政策》 ,2018年9月14日, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/14/China-Is-Buying-African-medias-Silence/ 。

[6]Azad Essa, “China Is Buying African Media’s Silence,” Foreign Policy, September 14, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/14/china-is-buying-african-medias-silence/.


[7]Cook, “The Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship: How the Communist Party’s Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets Around the World.”

[8] Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin,"Inside China's audacious global propaganda campaign,"《卫报》 ,2018年12月7日, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/dec/07/China-plan-for-global-media-dominance-propaganda-xi-jinping。

[8]Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin, “Inside China's audacious global propaganda campaign,” Guardian, December 7, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/dec/07/china-plan-for-global-media-dominance-propaganda-xi-jinping.

香港:前首席执行官必须停止攻击苹果日报》 ,《无国界记者,2019年4月15日, https://rsf.org/en/news/Hong-Kong-Former-Chief-Executive-Must-Stop-Attacking-Apple-Daily。

[9]“Hong Kong: Former Chief Executive Must Stop Attacking Apple Daily,” Reporters Without Borders, April 15, 2019, https://rsf.org/en/news/hong-kong-former-chief-executive-must-stop-attacking-apple-daily.

中国在非洲媒体和电信领域的合作、互联互通和控制》 ,挪威建设和平资源中心,2014年4月, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/179376/7880fd6b12b93bdd18eddcbd4f4e207f.pdf

[10]Iginio Gagliardone and Sam Geall, “China in Africa’s media and telecommunications: cooperation, connectivity and control,” Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2014, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/179376/7880fd6b12b93bdd18eddcbd4f4e207f.pdf

[11]"美国大众电视台被拒绝采访2017年联合国大会,"新闻专线,2017年9月21日, https://nwu.org/Popular-US-Based-Chinese-TV-Station-Denied-Accreditation-to-Cover-the-2017-United-Nations-General-Assembly/ ;"王毅在联合国:中国在世界舞台上发挥更大的作用,"CGTN,2017年9月26日, https://news.CGTN.com/news/3341544f77597a6333566d54/share_p.html。

[11]“Popular US-Based Chinese TV Station Denied Accreditation to Cover the 2017 United Nations General Assembly,” Newswire, September 21, 2017, https://nwu.org/popular-us-based-chinese-tv-station-denied-accreditation-to-cover-the-2017-united-nations-general-assembly/; “Wang Yi at UN: China playing bigger role on world stage,” CGTN, September 26, 2017, https://news.cgtn.com/news/3341544f77597a6333566d54/share_p.html.

[12]截至2016年年中,美国有9070万家庭收看了《中央电视台新闻》。其次是亲北京的香港凤凰卫视(7950万户)和亲中国的台湾电视台 CTI(7160万户)。相比之下,支持台独的台湾电视台 ETTV 只能在1230万户家庭收看,而由法轮功学员创办的纽约新唐人电视台(New Tang Dynasty TV)只能在590万户家庭收看。这些金额是根据 SNL Kagan 在2016年8月提供的一份网络运输报告中的数据计算出来的。详细的数据文件与作者。

[12]As of mid-2016, CCTV News was available in 90.7 million cable-viewing households in the United States. The next most widely available station was the Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing Phoenix TV (79.5 million households) and then the pro-China Taiwanese station CTI (71.6 million households). By contrast, the pro-independence Taiwanese station ETTV was available in just 12.3 million households, and the New York-based New Tang Dynasty TV, founded by Falun Gong practitioners, was available in only 5.9 million households. These sums were calculated from data in a network carriage report provided by SNL Kagan, August 2016. Detailed data on file with the author.

2017年1月27日,美国联邦通信委员会发表于《法规命令制订通知:促进视频节目多样化和独立来源的可获得性》一 https://www.FCC.gov/ecfs/filing/1012763254871。

[13]“New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television is responding to the following Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM): ‘Promoting the Availability of Diverse and Independent Sources of Video Programming’ [MB Docket No. 16–41; FCC 16–129],” Federal Communications Commission, January 27, 2017, https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1012763254871.

[14] Sarah Cook,"在美中经济与安全审查委员会面前的书面证词:中国政府对美国媒体前景的影响",2017年5月4日, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Sarah%20cook%20may%204th%202017%20uscc%20te

[14]Sarah Cook, “Written testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: Chinese Government Influence on the U.S. Media Landscape,” May 4, 2017, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Sarah%20Cook%20May%204th%202017%20USCC%20testimony.pdf.

[15] Bill Bertles,"中国共产党通过澳大利亚的媒体交易寻求新闻影响力,"ABC http://www.ABC.net.au/news/2017-06-11/China-Communist-Party-seeks-news-influence-australia-deals/8607754,2017年6月10日。

[15]Bill Bertles, “China's Communist Party seeks news influence through Australian media deals,” ABC, June 10, 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-11/china-communist-party-seeks-news-influence-australia-deals/8607754.

[16] Nick McKenzie,"中国领事馆如何欺负当地议会,媒体如何反对'反华关系',"雪梨晨锋报时报,2019年4月6日,《 https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/How-China-s-consulate-bullied-local-council-media-over-anti-China-ties-20190404-p51as2.html。

[16]Nick McKenzie, “How China's consulate bullied local council, media over ‘anti-China ties’,” Sydney Morning Herald, April 6, 2019, 'https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/how-china-s-consulate-bullied-local-council-media-over-anti-china-ties-20190404-p51as2.html.

[17]艾米丽·冯,《中国与世界》 2018年12月31日,《新西兰:联合锋线永远是赢家》 ,jchang Lulu https://jichanglulu.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/New-Zealand-United-Frontlings-always-win/ 。

[17]Emily Feng, “China and the world.” “New Zealand: United Frontlings always win,” Jichang Lulu, December 31, 2018, https://jichanglulu.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/new-zealand-united-frontlings-always-win/.

[18]"中国制造的假新闻压倒了台湾",《环球之声》 ,2018年11月20日,台湾 https://Advox.globalvoices.org/2018/11/30/Made-in-China-fake-News-overwhelms-Taiwan/ ;《数字新闻报道:台湾》 ,《数字新闻报道》 ,2018年,台湾 http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2018/Taiwan-2018/ 。

[18]“Made-in-China fake news overwhelms Taiwan,” Global Voices Advox, November 20, 2018, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2018/11/30/made-in-china-fake-news-overwhelms-taiwan/; Lihyun Lin, “Digital News Report: Taiwan,” Digital News Report, 2018, http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2018/taiwan-2018/.

2018年11月28日,《日经亚洲评论》 https://asia.Nikkei.com/politics/Beijing-likely-meddled-in-Taiwan-elections-US-cybersecurity-firm-says 报道:"美国网络安全公司称,北京可能干预了台湾的选举。"。我们从台湾戏剧性的2018年选举中学到的5个教训》 ,《新闻镜头》 ,2018年11月28日, https://international.thenewslens.com/feature/bluewave/109096。

[19]Andrew Sharp, “Beijing likely meddled in Taiwan elections, US cybersecurity firm says,” Nikkei Asian Review, November 28, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Beijing-likely-meddled-in-Taiwan-elections-US-cybersecurity-firm-says. David Evans, “5 Lessons We Learned From Taiwan's Dramatic 2018 Elections,” The News Lens, November 28, 2018, https://international.thenewslens.com/feature/bluewave/109096.

[20]"中国媒体公报:学生灌输,监督创新,GitHub 动员(第135号) ,"自由之家,2019年4月24日, https://freedomhouse.org/China-Media/China-Media-Bulletin-Student-indoctrination-surveillance-innovation-GitHub-mobilization-no-135。

[20]“China Media Bulletin: Student indoctrination, surveillance innovation, GitHub mobilization (No. 135),” Freedom House, April 24, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/china-media/china-media-bulletin-student-indoctrination-surveillance-innovation-github-mobilization-no-135.

[21]罗伯特·马莱克,"电视节目与电视节目有关。Https://HlidaciPes.org/tvrdikovi-pravnici-kvuli-cine-hrozi-zalobou-i-ceskemu-poslanci-zastrasuji-me-rika/ ,2016年3月29日。

[21]Robert Malecký, “Tvrdíkovi právníci kvůli Číně hrozí žalobou i českému poslanci. Zastrašují mě, říká,” HlidaciPes, March 29, 2016, https://hlidacipes.org/tvrdikovi-pravnici-kvuli-cine-hrozi-zalobou-i-ceskemu-poslanci-zastrasuji-me-rika/.

[22]"NCC 拒绝希望与 cns 的合并",今日台湾,2013年2月21日, https://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=6,23,45,6,6&post=11479。

[22]“NCC rejects Want Want-CNS merger,” Taiwan Today, February 21, 2013, https://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=6,23,45,6,6&post=11479.


A New Toolbox for Co-opting the Media

作者:Zselyke Csaky,欧洲和欧亚大陆研究主任

By Zselyke Csaky, Research Director, Europe & Eurasia

匈牙利最大的反对派报纸 em Nepszabadsag / em 的记者和他们的支持者在布达佩斯抗议。

Journalists of Hungary's biggest opposition newspaper <em>Nepszabadsag</em> and their supporters protest in Budapest.

匈牙利最大的反对派报纸 Nepszabadsag 的记者和他们的支持者在布达佩斯抗议。图片来源:ATTILA kisbenedek / afp / getty Images。

Journalists of Hungary's biggest opposition newspaper Nepszabadsag and their supporters protest in Budapest. Photo Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images.


Key Findings


In their recent attempts to control the media, antidemocratic leaders in fragile democracies have deployed a new toolbox that includes economic, legal, and extralegal means to silence critical journalists and bolster friendly news outlets.


In Hungary, the governing Fidesz party has all but consolidated its control over the media, and has built a parallel reality where government messages and disinformation reinforce each other.


In Serbia, the process of co-optation has not yet been fully successful, but an environment of intimidation and harassment inhibits journalists’ day-to-day work.


Beyond these two countries, a lack of trust in the media, the onslaught of fake news, increasing political polarization, and the lack of a profitable business model all grind down press freedom, laying the groundwork for co-optation by ill-intentioned political actors.

2018年4月,匈牙利的维克托·奥布尔和他的青年民主联盟赢得了议会的第三次绝对多数,赢得了49% 的选票,打败了支离破碎的反对派。一年前,塞尔维亚总理亚历山大·武契奇在竞选总统的过程中赢得了彻底的胜利,在第一轮投票中获得了55% 的选票,在塞尔维亚历史上第一次抢在了总统决选的前面。

In April 2018, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party won their third parliamentary supermajority, securing 49 percent of the vote and trouncing the fragmented opposition. A year earlier, Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vučić won an outright victory in his bid for that country’s presidency, taking 55 percent of the vote in the first round and preempting the need for a presidential runoff for the first time in Serbia’s history.


Orbán and Vučić have both moved to dismantle institutional checks and balances and centralize power in their own hands; they have also benefited from European support and ineffectual domestic opposition. But it is their domination of the media that has underwritten their success.


Over the past few years, a new toolbox has emerged that illiberal leaders in fragile democracies deploy to control and co-opt the press, with the aim of ensuring their stay in power. This toolbox leaves out tactics like censorship, force, or outright intimidation of journalists. Instead, it contains a collection of methods used to harness structural conditions. Once successful co-optation has taken place, media are incorporated into the system as building blocks that prop up those in power.


The illiberal toolbox for co-opting the media contains a variety of legal, extralegal, and economic strategies for applying pressure to critical outlets, and supporting friendly ones.

匈牙利是这种合作取得成功的主要例子。虽然武一世和他的盟友还没有巩固对塞尔维亚媒体的控制,但他们正在追随 Orbán 的脚步。在自由之家最新的《世界自由报告》中,这两个国家都从"免费"下降到"部分免费"。[1]

Hungary serves as the primary example where this co-optation has been successful. And while Vučić and his allies have yet to consolidate control over Serbia’s media, they are following in Orbán’s footsteps. Both countries declined from Free to Partly Free in Freedom House’s most recent Freedom in the World report.[1]


But it is not just Hungary and Serbia where media co-optation by ill-intentioned political leaders can threaten democracy. Globally, independent media foster public discussion and political participation that is grounded in well-informed opinions. These practices are essential to democracy, and today they are under strain. While the public sphere has expanded exponentially in the new millennium, this expansion has brought with it confusion, economic disruption, polarization, and an increasing level of distrust toward the institutions that underpin democracy. Of these institutions, the media are under particular duress.


The illiberal toolbox is particularly effective because it exploits the weaknesses of today’s media environment, including the decline of trust in the press, and the crisis of the old business model. It takes place gradually and stealthily, and after a point it is difficult to reverse. This makes the media in many countries vulnerable—and by extension, threatens the very basis of democracy by undermining an essential check on unbridled government power.

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The toolbox


Tilting the market


The application of financial and economic pressure is an effective means for co-opting outlets. This technique takes advantage of the changing media business model, which has left many outlets cash-strapped. Governments can also plausibly deny responsibility for this strategy’s effects, as it relies on players on the market and in institutions supposedly outside the government’s control.

匈牙利青年民主联盟完善了利用和滥用市场力量来接管媒体的做法,并因此扩大了其政治权力。从2016年开始,媒体在亲政府手中几乎完全整合的速度加快。那一年,领先的日报《 n pszabads g 》在一夜之间被恶意关闭,其出版商被卖给了 l rinc m sz ros ——一个从煤气装配工转行成为寡头的 Orbán 童年好友。[2]和匈牙利的大多数其他媒体一样,pszabads g 一直在财务上举步维艰,但作为该国阅读量最高的日报,它是少数几家真正有机会扭亏为盈的出版物之一。

Hungary’s Fidesz has perfected the use and abuse of market forces to take over media, and has extended its political power as a consequence. The near total consolidation of the media in progovernment hands accelerated starting in 2016. That year, the leading daily Népszabadság was shut down overnight in a hostile maneuver, and its publisher sold to Lőrinc Mészáros, a gasfitter-turned-oligarch and childhood friend of Orbán.[2] Népszabadság, like most other outlets in Hungary, had been struggling financially, but as the country’s most-read daily it was among the few publications that had a realistic chance of turning its fortunes around.

后来,m sz ros 通过直接或间接收购电视频道、日报、周刊、在线媒体以及匈牙利所有的地区性报纸,建立了一个媒体帝国。[3]此后,他成为了匈牙利第二大富豪,由于他的政治关系,他的财富在三年内增加了300倍。然而,在2018年底,m sz ros 和其他亲政府的商人突然决定是时候放弃他们的股份了,他们向亲政府的综合媒体 KESMA 免费提供所有的出口。Kesma 统一了400多种媒体产品,展示了匈牙利亲政府媒体令人惊讶的统治地位。[5]

Mészáros later built a media empire through the direct or indirect acquisition of television channels, dailies, weeklies, online media, and all of Hungary’s regional newspapers.[3] He has since become Hungary’s second-richest man, increasing his wealth 300 times in the span of three years thanks to his political connections.[4] At the end of 2018, however, Mészáros and other government-friendly businessmen suddenly decided it was time to give up their holdings, offering all outlets for free to KESMA, a progovernment media conglomerate. KESMA unifies more than 400 media products, and exhibits in plain sight the astonishing domination of government-friendly media in Hungary.[5]

匈牙利出现的所有权合并程度尚未在塞尔维亚形成。然而,最近的一次私有化运动把几个出口交给了与执政党塞尔维亚进步党联盟(SNS)关系友好的所有者。[6]与政府关系密切的人也会进行个人收购。2018年底,SNS 一位高级官员的兄弟购买了两个全国性的电视频道;他还拥有三个门户网站,一个广播电台和九个有线频道。[7]

The degree of ownership consolidation seen in Hungary has yet to take hold in Serbia. However, a recent privatization drive handed several outlets to owners friendly with the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).[6] Individual acquisitions by people close to the government occur as well. In late 2018, the brother of a top SNS official purchased two national television channels; he also owns three online portals, a radio station, and nine cable channels.[7]

在塞尔维亚,一种更令人担忧的财政压力形式是税务当局对媒体的骚扰。2017年,每周一次的 Vrjanske novine 接受每日访问,恰逢其发表了对前税务机关负责人的采访;其所有者最终宣布该报无法再承受压力,于是停止运营。2018年,以在塞尔维亚南部进行批评性报道而闻名的新闻网站 Juzne Vesti,遭到了五年来长达五个月的税务调查。[8]

An even more worrying form of financial pressure in Serbia is the harassment of media by the tax authorities. In 2017, the weekly Vrjanske novine received daily visits, which coincided with its publication of an interview with a former head of the tax authority; its owner ultimately announced that the paper could no longer withstand the pressure, and it ceased operations. In 2018, the news site Juzne Vesti, known for its critical reporting in the south of Serbia, was subjected to its fifth months-long tax investigation in five years.[8]


Wielding the law


Governments occasionally deploy laws and regulations to intimidate or interfere with journalists, or to drain them of their resources. But the illiberal toolbox rarely contains instruments for the sort of blunt-force legal repression, such as censorship, that would prompt immediate condemnation by neighboring democracies and media monitors. Instead, it is the politicized implementation of technical laws that puts pressure on independent outlets.

例如,匈牙利政府于2011年成立的媒体机构,拥有大量忠于青民盟(Fidesz)的成员,它利用自己的权力,有选择地拒绝向独立或倾向于反对派的媒体发放许可证。2012年,广电总局与左翼的克鲁布拉迪奥频道(Klubradio channel)展开了一场旷日持久的法律斗争,在两年多的时间里拒绝向该频道颁发许可证,并拒绝执行法院对该频道有利的判决。[9]2016年,监管机构再次发起罢工,当时该机构拒绝延长美国最受欢迎的广播电台——第一调频电台(Class FM)的广播执照。在一场旷日持久的官司之后,2018年,一家亲政府机构获得了第三频道的频率。[10]这一决定对匈牙利的电台市场是一个重大打击,使该国只剩下政府下属的国家电台。

For example, Hungary’s media authority, set up by the government in 2011 and stacked with Fidesz loyalists, has used its powers to selectively refuse licenses to independent or opposition-leaning outlets. In 2012, the authority initiated what became a lengthy legal battle with the left-wing Klubradio channel, denying it a license and refusing to implement court decisions in the station’s favor over a period of more than two years.[9] Regulators struck again in 2016, when the authority refused to renew the broadcasting license of the country’s most popular radio station, Class FM. After a protracted court case, Class FM’s frequency was awarded to a progovernment outlet in 2018.[10] The decision was a significant blow to Hungary’s radio market, leaving the country with only government-affiliated national stations.

同样,塞尔维亚也通过对法律的政治化操纵破坏了新闻自由。诽谤已经非刑罪化,该国的媒体法在其他方面符合国际义务。但是政客们继续提起昂贵的诽谤诉讼,要求高昂的民事赔偿。例如,在2018年初,没有任职档案的部长涅纳德·波波维(Nenad popov)在一个月内对调查门户网站 KRIK 提起了四起诉讼,每起诉讼要求赔偿100万第纳尔(合9500美元)。[11]

Similarly, Serbia has also undermined press freedom through politicized manipulation of the law. Defamation has been decriminalized, and the country’s media laws are otherwise in line with international obligations. But politicians have continued to file costly defamation suits seeking exorbitant civil damages. In early 2018, for example, minister without portfolio Nenad Popović sued the investigative portal KRIK in four separate lawsuits in the space of one month, for 1 million dinars ($9,500) each.[11]

虽然塞尔维亚的媒体监管机构没有像在匈牙利那样公开表现出对独立媒体的敌意,但他们缺乏能力来执行塞尔维亚在其他方面制定得很好的媒体法律。电子媒体监管局只有部分人员,业务运转不良,尤其是在竞选期间未能突出执政党在媒体领域的主导地位。2019年2月,两家电视台播放了一段嘲笑反对派领导人的华丽视频,尽管塞尔维亚法律禁止在选举之外做政治广告,但这段视频首次出现在执政党 SNS 的 YouTube 频道上,塞尔维亚未能采取行动。[12]

And while Serbia’s media regulators do not display overt hostility to independent media as in Hungary, they lack the capacity to implement Serbia’s otherwise well-formulated media laws. The Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media is only partially staffed and is operationally dysfunctional, having notably failed to call out governing party dominance of the media landscape during election campaigns. In February 2019, it failed to act when two television stations aired a slick video that mocked opposition leaders, and that had first appeared on the governing SNS’s YouTube channel, even though Serbia’s laws prohibit political advertising outside elections.[12]


Keeping them in line and on their toes


Harassment can also take more direct forms, such as physical attacks and threats. But thuggish attacks are generally absent from the illiberal toolbox. Instead, political leaders signal that hostility toward journalists is permissible, including by standing down in the wake of aggression against them rather than insisting on a timely and effective follow-up, or by deploying proxies to delegitimize their work. In this way, they cultivate an atmosphere of fear and impunity in which journalists know that scrutiny of power is fraught with risk.

与匈牙利相比,塞尔维亚的媒体环境对记者的日常工作要严苛得多。来自政客和网络账户的诽谤和言语骚扰无处不在,而且对政府友好的小报经常发起攻击。媒体工作者经常被称为"叛徒"和"外国雇佣兵" 2018年初,一个记者协会的大门上贴满了传单,上面写着"悲惨的塞尔维亚敌人协会";与此同时,一些记者声称他们处于国家安全部门的监视之下。[13]2018年末,一位70岁的调查记者的家被纵火焚烧。那次袭击极其恶劣,足以引发回应ーー一名执政党官员因涉嫌下令袭击而被拘留并被剥夺职务。然而,如此严重、显然是有预谋的袭击事件的发生突出表明,塞尔维亚普遍认为独立记者的行动是自担风险的。

Serbia’s media environment is much tougher on journalists doing their day-to-day work than is Hungary’s. Smears and verbal harassment from politicians and online accounts are omnipresent, and attacks by government-friendly tabloids are a regular occurrence. Media workers are frequently called “traitors” and “foreign mercenaries.” In early 2018, a journalist association’s front door was plastered with flyers that read, “Miserable Association of Enemies of Serbia;” meanwhile, some journalists claim they are under surveillance by state security.[13] In late 2018, the home of a 70-year-old investigative journalist was torched. That attack was egregious enough to prompt a response—a ruling party official was detained and stripped of his position for allegedly ordering it. However, that such a severe, apparently premeditated attack took place at all underscored the widespread perception in Serbia that independent journalists operate at their own risk.

尽管直接骚扰在匈牙利很少见,但政府确保记者知道自己的位置。2019年由 orb n 举办的新闻发布会因多年来首次邀请批评性记者参加而引人注目。此外,自2007年以来,orb n 就没有接受过匈牙利最受关注的在线新闻网站 Index.hu 的采访,并称其为"假新闻" 政府发言人还经常参与旨在损害记者信誉的攻击;2018年,他在 Twitter 上称一名为外国媒体工作的记者为"卑鄙的社会正义战士"。

Though outright harassment is rare in Hungary, the government makes sure journalists know their place. A 2019 press conference by Orbán was notable for its inclusion of critical journalists for the first time in years. In addition, Orbán has not given an interview to Hungary’s most-read online news site, Index.hu, since 2007, and has referred to it as “fake news.” The government spokesperson also regularly engages in attacks meant to damage journalists’ credibility; in 2018, he called a journalist working for a foreign outlet a “despicable SJW [social justice warrior]” on Twitter.


Cutting checks


Establishing and supporting a progovernment media empire is as important a tactic in the illiberal toolbox as pressuring critical media. Such support can take many forms, including the preferential awarding of state advertising contracts, special financing schemes, and privileged treatment by tax authorities.

在匈牙利,国家广告的使用和滥用已经重塑了媒体市场。尽管州广告仅占所有广告的六分之一左右,但在过去几年中,州广告呈指数增长。[14]2018年,州政府的广告支出是十年前前几届政府的五倍,其中85% 的合同授予了对政府友好的公司。自2014年以来,一些新的亲政府渠道已经建立起来,在几年的时间里,利润增长了三到四倍,而且没有任何迹象表明受众在增加。亲政府周刊 figyel 在2018年公布了一份被政府视为"索罗斯雇佣兵"(指亿万富翁、慈善家乔治·索罗斯[ George Soros ])的名单。自2016年被政府盟友接管以来,该周刊从政府广告中获得的收入增加了10倍;到2018年,其广告收入的四分之三来自政府合同。[15]

In Hungary, the use and abuse of state advertising has reshaped the media market. While state advertising takes up only about one-sixth of all advertising, it has grown exponentially in the past few years.[14] In 2018, state ad spending was five times more than under previous governments a decade earlier, with a whopping 85 percent of contracts awarded to government-friendly companies. Since 2014, several new progovernment outlets have been set up, with some tripling or quadrupling their profits in the span of a few years without any indication of an increased audience. The progovernment weekly Figyelő, which published a list of government critics in 2018 deemed “Soros mercenaries” (referring to the billionaire and philanthropist George Soros), has increased its income from government advertising tenfold since its takeover by a government ally in 2016; by 2018, three-fourths of its ad money came from state contracts.[15]


State advertising plays an important role in supporting progovernment media in Serbia as well, and there are additional innovative methods available for the government to channel money to friendly media. Project co-financing, through which the state chips in to help media projects that serve the public interest, has been used to allocate money to progovernment outlets. This abuse was highlighted by the European Commission in its 2018 report on Serbia, which also criticized the nontransparent nature of the co-financing processes.[16] Friendly outlets have also benefitted from selective tax enforcement, while smaller, critical outlets have suffered harsh penalties.[17]


Building a parallel reality


Finally, creating a loyal media empire is not enough—the outlets have to be put to use in a strategic way, and the illiberal leaders of Hungary and Serbia are masters of constructing a grand narrative and crafting a new reality. Flooding the media landscape with their own political messages allows those in power to dominate the political agenda, divert public discussion away from sensitive issues, and ultimately control and manipulate the public sphere.

公共媒体是这个叙事建筑的重要组成部分。在塞尔维亚和匈牙利,国有或国家控制的新闻机构使私营竞争对手相形见绌。作为私有化运动的一部分,塞尔维亚的 Tanjug 通讯社被正式关闭,但它仍然通过公共资金的支持继续运作。[18]匈牙利国家新闻通讯社 MTI 的市场主导地位是通过补贴的低价格得到保证的。[19]尽管塞尔维亚和匈牙利的公共广播公司一直支持当权的政府,但近年来,这种支持的基调和性质发生了巨大变化。以前他们或多或少是带有轻微偏见的专业渠道,而现在他们是政府的喉舌。

The public media are an important part of this narrative building. State-owned or state-controlled news agencies dwarf their private competitors in both Serbia and Hungary. Serbia’s Tanjug news agency was formally closed as part of a privatization drive, yet it continues to operate through support from public coffers.[18] The market domination of Hungary’s state newswire, MTI, is guaranteed through its subsidized low price.[19] And while public broadcasters in Serbia and Hungary have always been supportive of governments in power, the tone and nature of that support has dramatically shifted in recent years. Whereas previously they were more or less professional outlets with a slight bias, now they are government mouthpieces.

在匈牙利,政府和亲政府的媒体已经成为平行的现实叙事的主要来源。2018年初,亲政府的日报《 Magyar id k 》称,有2000名"雇佣军"在匈牙利为索罗斯工作;这个数字似乎源自一个神秘组织实施的恶意设圈套行动,目的是诋毁索罗斯所属的非政府组织,后来奥布尔本人又重复了这个数字。[20]索罗斯还出现在许多其他虚假新闻中,包括与政府关系友好的 TV2在2017年刊登的一条标题:"索罗斯差点杀了自己的母亲。" 此外,这家公共广播公司的员工承认,他们收到了总理办公室关于如何报道移民等敏感问题的指示。[21]2019年,一段泄露的视频记录显示,国家广播公司的一名记者指导亲政府的专家说些什么。[22]

In Hungary, the government and progovernment media have turned into a major source of parallel reality narratives. In early 2018, the progovernment daily Magyar Idők claimed that 2,000 “mercenaries” were working for Soros in Hungary; the number—which appeared to originate with a malicious sting operation conducted by a shadowy group and aimed at discrediting Soros-affiliated NGOs—was later repeated by Orbán himself.[20] Soros has featured in numerous other false news items, including a headline the government-friendly TV2 ran in 2017 that read, “Soros would have killed his own mother.” Moreover, employees of the public broadcaster have admitted to receiving instructions from the prime minister’s offices on how to cover sensitive issues, such as migration.[21] In 2019, a leaked video recording showed a reporter from the state broadcaster instructing a progovernment expert on what to say.[22]

除了通过问题框架和议程设置来识别"敌人",狭隘的工具箱还包含积极叙事建设的元素。塞尔维亚总统武一世在与友好媒体交谈时是不知疲倦的。在2018年地方选举之前,关于总统、 SNS 和政府的报道的播出时间是其余23份选举名单加起来的四倍。[23]

Besides identifying the “enemy” through issue framing and agenda setting, the illiberal toolbox also contains elements of positive narrative building. Serbia’s President Vučić is indefatigable when it comes to talking to friendly media. Ahead of the 2018 local elections, reporting on the president, the SNS, and the government received four times more airtime than did the remaining 23 electoral lists combined.[23]


A model ready for export

在塞尔维亚,加入欧盟的前景——随之而来的是越来越严格的法治监督——仍然可以为变革提供动力。但是,一旦发生了成功的合作,就像在匈牙利那样,就很难扭转局面。在巩固了匈牙利的媒体之后,青民盟现在正在采取措施扩大其跨国影响力:2018年,该党的盟友在马其顿和斯洛文尼亚收购了媒体,2019年初,在伦敦创建了一家英文新闻通讯社,显然是为了传播奥布赖恩的狭隘议程。[25]也许不足为奇的是,第一家引用新电报的非匈牙利通讯社是塞尔维亚的 Tanjug。

In Serbia, the prospect of EU membership, which brings with it increasingly stringent rule-of-law monitoring, can still provide an incentive for change. But once successful co-optation has taken place, as in Hungary, it is very difficult to reverse. And after consolidating media in Hungary, Fidesz is now taking steps to expand its influence transnationally: party allies acquired media in Macedonia and Slovenia in 2018,[24] and early 2019 saw the creation of an English-language newswire based in London apparently established to spread Orbán’s illiberal agenda.[25] Perhaps not surprisingly, the first non-Hungarian news agency to quote the new wire was Serbia’s Tanjug.


While illiberal co-optation does not eradicate independent journalism, it harnesses institutional weaknesses and market conditions to severely limit its reach and impact. Media consumers can still access quality journalism produced by small, public-minded teams of reporters, but in light of increasing government control of the media landscape, these outlets are fighting an uphill battle. The illiberal toolbox works because it discourages and obscures independent reporting, funnels limitless resources into the creation and maintenance of a loyal media juggernaut, and makes sure journalists know their place in the new system.


Both in Central Europe and outside it, the press is suffering from a crisis of trust and a crisis of the old business model. In the United States and in Europe, the profound change that came with the spread of online news and the collapse of the traditional advertising market has sent outlets and owners scrambling for profits by prioritizing content that spurs outrage. The growing prominence of fake news and disinformation has further fed into political polarization, contributing to a cycle of decreasing trust. In the United States, fewer than half the population say they trust the media; the figure is around one-third in Italy and the United Kingdom, and only one-fourth in Turkey or Russia.[26] Rates of trust in the media seem to move together with those of trust in government—explaining part of the current crisis.[27]


The lack of trust, the onslaught of disinformation and tabloidized half-truths, and the elusiveness of a profitable business model all grind down media freedom and prepare the ground for potential illiberal takeover. When crafty and talented political leaders emerge with an appropriate agenda, it could be simply a matter of time before democracies buckle under the pressure.


Rays of hope


But not all is bleak. Positive examples already suggest that a change has started on the demand side, as more people are willing to pay for news that they find valuable, as well as on the supply side, with journalists launching innovative models that concentrate on quality news analysis. Democratic governments are also catching up and have moved into the debate—though sometimes somewhat awkwardly—proposing regulatory involvement to tackle thorny issues around fake news and disinformation.

民众和立法者正在抗议媒体滥用权力,尤其是公共广播公司的滥用权力。在塞尔维亚,抗议者在2019年3月袭击了公共广播公司 RTS 的总部,因为 RTS 没有报道早前的抗议活动,并且拒绝向反对派领导人提供广播时间。在匈牙利,反对派议员在2018年12月占领了国家广播公司的总部,并得到了外面示威者的支持。

Citizens and lawmakers are protesting media abuses, particularly those by public broadcasters. In Serbia, protesters in March 2019 stormed the headquarters of the public broadcaster RTS after it failed to report on earlier protests and denied airtime to opposition leaders. In Hungary, opposition lawmakers in December 2018 occupied the headquarters of the state broadcaster, with the support of demonstrators outside.


Democratic countries must work to build a media environment that prioritizes independent and accurate reporting and guarantees access to quality information for all segments of the population. This will not only prevent illiberal co-optation, but will also shore up institutions and strengthen and support democracy at home.




The following recommendations for policymakers in democratic nations will help counter efforts by ill-intentioned political actors to co-opt media:


Recognize and speak out against illiberal tactics. False assertions aimed at damaging legitimate journalism—including claims that the media are biased or part of the opposition, or that independent journalism and articles uncovering wrongdoing present a security threat—are often accepted at face value. Officials from democratic countries should stay on alert for such illiberal tactics, carefully research false claims, and use their findings to refute them. Policymakers and high-level officials in democratic countries should continue to speak out against laws, practices, and rhetoric that negatively impact media freedom.

密切关注脆弱的媒体市场,防止不自由的合作。传统商业模式所面临的危机影响了全球几乎所有的媒体市场,但影响并不一致。最近的民粹主义热潮,再加上媒体市场存在系统性问题(例如罗马尼亚或意大利所见的政治和经济利益的深度交织) ,这些国家尤其容易受到非自由主义合作的影响。政策制定者应该识别并公布从非自由主义工具箱中取得的方法,并敦促民主政府打击在脆弱市场中使用这些方法的行为。在适用的情况下,外国援助应包括努力支持新闻自由。

Closely watch vulnerable media markets to prevent illiberal co-optation. The crisis facing the traditional business model has affected practically all media markets globally, but the impact has not been uniform. Countries where the recent populist upsurge is coupled with a media market that suffers from systemic problems—such as the deep intertwining of political and economic interests as seen in Romania or Italy—are particularly vulnerable to illiberal co-optation. Policymakers should identify and expose the methods taken from the illiberal toolbox and urge democratic governments to combat their use in vulnerable markets. Foreign assistance, where applicable, should include efforts to shore up press freedom.


Provide tailored assistance to journalists in countries where the political leadership has co-opted the media. As co-optation progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for local journalists to counter government domination. Democratic governments and media funders need to actively reengage to halt this deterioration and preserve local incubators of good journalism. Both in Hungary and Serbia, the reengagement needs to be strategic: financial support and grant programs should prioritize long-term resilience, rather than solely rewarding the leanest and most creative solutions. Private foundations deciding to support media in these countries should consult local sources to keep their money from ending up with state-controlled outfits.

反对战略性地使用法律诉讼和针对媒体的监管行动。政治领导人越来越多地滥用法律,依靠监管当局的敌对决定来压制和恐吓调查记者和其他批评者。但这不仅仅是一种狭隘的策略ーー针对公众参与的战略性诉讼正成为压制全球批评声音的一种普遍工具。虽然一些国家有反记者招待会的法律,但法官往往不熟悉这种做法及其越来越多地用于对付记者。决策者应进一步通过地方反 slapp 法律,并在新闻自由组织的帮助下,对司法机构和地方记者进行有关这些法律的教育。政策制定者还应监督媒体监管机构的决定,以确保媒体自由不会受到敌意技术手段的压制。

Counter the strategic use of lawsuits and regulatory action against media. Political leaders are increasingly abusing laws and relying on hostile decisions by regulatory authorities to silence and intimidate investigative journalists and other critics. But it is not just an illiberal tactic—Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are becoming a widespread tool to silence critical voices globally. While anti-SLAPP laws exist in several countries, judges are often unfamiliar with the practice and its increasing use against journalists. Policymakers should further the adoption of local anti-SLAPP laws and, with the help of press freedom organizations, educate both the judiciary and local journalists about them. Policymakers should also monitor decisions implemented by media regulators to ensure that media freedoms are not being squelched through hostile technical means.



自由之家,2019年2月5日, https://freedomhouse.org/report/Freedom-World/Freedom-World-2019。

[1]“Freedom in the World 2019,” Freedom House, February 5, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2019.

[2]"一份匈牙利报纸使政府难堪。几天后,它被关闭了,华盛顿邮报,2016年10月20日, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/a-hungarian-newspaper-embarrasses-the-government-Days-later-it-is-shut-down/2016/10/20/3f9d6b24-9494-11e6-bc79-af1cd3d2984b_story.html。

[2]“A Hungarian newspaper embarrasses the government. Days later, it is shut down,” Washington Post, October 20, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/a-hungarian-newspaper-embarrasses-the-government-days-later-it-is-shut-down/2016/10/20/3f9d6b24-9494-11e6-bc79-af1cd3d2984b_story.html.

路透社,2017年3月3日,《 https://www.Reuters.com/article/us-hungary-media-oligarch/Orban-ally-buys-stakes-in-owner-of-Hungarian-media-group-iduskbn16a1pe 道:"奥尔班联盟购买匈牙利传媒集团所有者的股份。"。

[3]“Orban ally buys stakes in owner of Hungarian media group,” Reuters, March 3, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-media-oligarch/orban-ally-buys-stakes-in-owner-of-hungarian-media-group-idUSKBN16A1PE.

2018年5月7日,《 https://Index.hu/gazdasag/2018/05/07/meszaros_lorinc_zuckerberg_vagyongyarapodas_vilag_leggazdagabb_embere_reloaded/ 。

[4]Mészáros Tamás, “Mészáros Lőrinc vagyongyarapodása kisebb matematikai csoda,” Index.hu, May 7, 2018, https://index.hu/gazdasag/2018/05/07/meszaros_lorinc_zuckerberg_vagyongyarapodas_vilag_leggazdagabb_embere_reloaded/.

[5] m rton Bede,"一个匈牙利媒体怪兽统治着他们所有人,"国际新闻研究所,2018年12月12日, https://ipi.media/One-Hungarian-media-monster-to-rule-them-all/ 。

[5]Márton Bede, “One Hungarian media monster to rule them all,” International Press Institute, December 12, 2018, https://ipi.media/one-hungarian-media-monster-to-rule-them-all/.

[6]"谁拥有塞尔维亚的媒体?" 无国界记者,2017年6月17日, https://rsf.org/en/news/who-owns-media-serbia。

[6]“Who owns the Media in Serbia?” Reporters Without Borders, June 17, 2017, https://rsf.org/en/news/who-owns-media-serbia.

[7]"执政党高官的兄弟买下了两家国家电视公司,"Slavko uruvija 基金会,2018年12月16日, https://www.slavkocuruvijafondacija.rs/en/Brother-of-high-ranking-ruling-party-official-buys-two-national-television-companies/ 。

[7]“Brother of high-ranking ruling party official buys two national television companies,” Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, December 16, 2018, https://www.slavkocuruvijafondacija.rs/en/brother-of-high-ranking-ruling-party-official-buys-two-national-television-companies/.

[8]拉扎拉·马林科维:"塞尔维亚的税务检查是否被用作限制媒体的工具?" 审查指数,2018年5月3日, https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2018/05/serbia-tax-inspections-curb-press/ 。

[8]Lazara Marinković, “Are Serbia’s tax inspections being used as a tool to curb the press?” Index on Censorship, May 3, 2018, https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2018/05/serbia-tax-inspections-curb-press/.

人权观察》 ,2012年8月22日,《 https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/22/Clubbing-Klubradio ,莉迪亚·加尔,Klubradio 俱乐部。

[9]Lydia Gall, The Clubbing of Klubradio, Human Rights Watch, August 22, 2012, https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/22/clubbing-klubradio.

[10] Szalay d niel,p nteken indul j korm nyk zeli di a Class FM hely,24. 胡,2018年6月11日, https://24.hu/media/2018/06/11/penteken-indul-az-uj-kormanykozeli-radio-a-class-fm-helyen/ 。

[10]Szalay Dániel, Pénteken indul az új kormányközeli rádió a Class FM helyén, 24.hu, June 11, 2018, https://24.hu/media/2018/06/11/penteken-indul-az-uj-kormanykozeli-radio-a-class-fm-helyen/.

[11]"塞尔维亚政府部长对调查性新闻编辑室提起4项诉讼",Slavko uruvija 基金会,2018年1月31日, https://www.slavkocuruvijafondacija.rs/en/Serbian-Government-Minister-Files-Four-Lawsuits-against-Investigative-Newsroom/ 。

[11]“Serbian Government Minister Files Four Lawsuits against Investigative Newsroom,” Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, January 31, 2018, https://www.slavkocuruvijafondacija.rs/en/serbian-government-minister-files-four-lawsuits-against-investigative-newsroom/.

欧安组织 / 民主人权办选举评估团报告,塞尔维亚,2017年4月2日,总统选举,"欧洲安全与合作组织民主制度和人权办公室,2017年6月8日, https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/serbia/322166?download=true。

[12]“OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Report, Republic of Serbia, Presidential Election, 2 April 2017,” Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, June 8, 2017, https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/serbia/322166?download=true.

[13] Francesco Martino,"The Trouble Brewing in Serbia:KRIK's Editor Talks Media and Power,"全球调查报导网络,2019年3月22日, https://gijn.org/2019/03/22/The-Trouble-Brewing-in-Serbia-kriks-Editor-Talks-Media-and-Power/ 。

[13]Francesco Martino, “The Trouble Brewing in Serbia: KRIK’s Editor Talks Media and Power,” Global Investigative Journalism Network, March 22, 2019, https://gijn.org/2019/03/22/the-trouble-brewing-in-serbia-kriks-editor-talks-media-and-power/.

[14]"Allami hirdetesek,"Mertek, https://Mertek.atlatszo.hu/allamihirdetesek/ .

[14]“Allami hirdetesek,” Mertek, https://mertek.atlatszo.hu/allamihirdetesek/.

[15] jand zolt n,"Kellemeset a hasznossal:gy v lnak a k znz-milli rdok mag nvagyonn a korm nypropagand val,"g7. hu,2018年6月13日, https://G7.hu/vallalat/20180613/Kellemeset-a-hasznossal-maganvagyonna-valnak-a-kozpenz-milliardok-a-kormanypropagandaval/ ;"Allami hirdetesek,"Mertek, https://Mertek.atlatszo.hu/allamihirdetesek/ 。

[15]Jandó Zoltán, “Kellemeset a hasznossal: így válnak a közpénz-milliárdok magánvagyonná a kormánypropagandával,” G7.hu, June 13, 2018, https://g7.hu/vallalat/20180613/kellemeset-a-hasznossal-maganvagyonna-valnak-a-kozpenz-milliardok-a-kormanypropagandaval/; “Allami hirdetesek,” Mertek, https://mertek.atlatszo.hu/allamihirdetesek/.

塞尔维亚2018年报告》 ,欧盟委员会,2018年4月17日, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/20180417-Serbia-Report.pdf。

[16]“Serbia 2018 Report,” European Commission, April 17, 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/20180417-serbia-report.pdf.

媒体诚信报告:塞尔维亚的国家媒体金融关系,《东南欧媒体观察》 ,2015年11月23日, https://mediaobservatory.net/radar/Media-integrity-report-state-Media-financial-relations-Serbia。

[17]Bojana Barlovac, “Media integrity report: State-media financial relations in Serbia,” South East European Media Observatory, November 23, 2015, https://mediaobservatory.net/radar/media-integrity-report-state-media-financial-relations-serbia.

[18] Dina or evi and an ela milivojevi,"塞尔维亚的 Tanjug 通讯社:法律上不存在,由国家支持运作,"东南欧媒体专业化网络,2018年6月14日, http://seenpm.org/serbias-Tanjug-News-Agency-special-treatment-but-unclear-status/ 。

[18]Dina Đorđević and Anđela Milivojević, “Serbia’s Tanjug News Agency: Legally Non-Existent, Operates Supported by State,” South East European Network for Professionalization of Media, June 14, 2018, http://seenpm.org/serbias-tanjug-news-agency-special-treatment-but-unclear-status/.

[19]"为匈牙利的公共服务媒体提供资金ーー一种非法的国家援助?" 2019年1月9日,纽约 https://mertek.eu/en/2019/01/09/funding-for-public-service-media-in-hungary-a-form-of-unlawful-state-aid/ 。

[19]“Funding for public service media in Hungary—a form of unlawful state aid?” Mérték Médiaelemző Műhely, January 9, 2019, https://mertek.eu/en/2019/01/09/funding-for-public-service-media-in-hungary-a-form-of-unlawful-state-aid/.

[20] Alberto Nardelli 和 Craig Silverman,"索罗斯联系的非政府组织成为大规模复杂卧底行动的牺牲品。匈牙利总理受益最多,BuzzFeed 新闻,2018年4月6日, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/george-soros-Hungary-election。

[20]Alberto Nardelli and Craig Silverman, “Soros-Linked NGOs Fell Victim to a Big, Sophisticated Undercover Operation. Hungary’s Prime Minister Has Benefited the Most,” BuzzFeed News, April 6, 2018, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/george-soros-hungary-election.

《卫报》 ,2018年4月13日,《 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/13/hungary-journalists-state-tv-network-migrants-viktor-orban-government 道:"匈牙利记者承认在打造反移民的'恐惧气氛'中扮演了角色。"。

[21]David Noland and Shaun Walker, “Hungarian journalists admit role in forging anti-migrant ‘atmosphere of fear,’” Guardian, April 13, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/13/hungary-journalists-state-tv-network-migrants-viktor-orban-government.

[22]"kisziv rgott egy v gatlan felv tel arr l,hogy k sz l a propaganda a k zt v ben,"24. 胡,2019年1月14日, https://24.hu/belfold/2019/01/14/kozmedia-propaganda-mtva-ifj-lomnici-zoltan/ 。

[22]“Kiszivárgott egy vágatlan felvétel arról, hogy készül a propaganda a köztévében,” 24.hu, January 14, 2019, https://24.hu/belfold/2019/01/14/kozmedia-propaganda-mtva-ifj-lomnici-zoltan/.

[23] Marija vuksaovi,塞尔维亚:媒体自由和记者安全水平指标,2018年(贝尔格莱德:塞尔维亚独立记者协会,2018年9月) , https://safejournalists.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/full-report-Indicators-on-the-level-of-media-freedom-and-Journalists-safety-Serbia-2018.pdf。

[23]Marija Vuksaović, Serbia: Indicators on the level of media freedom and journalists’ safety, 2018 (Belgrade: Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, September 2018), https://safejournalists.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Full-report-Indicators-on-the-level-of-media-freedom-and-journalists-safety-Serbia-2018.pdf.

[24] Patrick Kingsley,"匈牙利的安全,Viktor Orban 将他的信息传遍欧洲",《纽约时报》 ,2018年6月4日, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/04/world/Europe/Viktor-Orban-media-slovenia.html。

[24]Patrick Kingsley, “Safe in Hungary, Viktor Orban Pushes His Message Across Europe,” New York Times, June 4, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/04/world/europe/viktor-orban-media-slovenia.html.

[25] Andras Gergely,"Orban 宣传机器寻求与新闻机构更广泛的接触,"彭博社,2019年4月9日,纽约 https://www.Bloomberg.com/News/articles/2019-04-09/Orban-Propaganda-Machine-Seeks-european-Reach-with-News-Agency。

[25]Andras Gergely, “Orban Propaganda Machine Seeks Wider Reach with News Agency,” Bloomberg, April 9, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-09/orban-propaganda-machine-seeks-european-reach-with-news-agency.

2019 Edelman Trust Barometer(New York:Edelman,2019) , https://www.Edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2019-03/2019_edelman_trust_barometer_global_report.pdf.

[26]2019 Edelman Trust Barometer (New York: Edelman, 2019), https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2019-03/2019_Edelman_Trust_Barometer_Global_Report.pdf.

全球公众希望看到政治平衡的新闻,但不认为他们的新闻媒体在这个领域做得很好,皮尤研究中心,2018年1月11日, https://www.pewglobal.org/2018/01/11/Global-publics-want-politically-balanced-news-but-do-not-think-their-news-media-are-doing-very-well-in-this-area/ 。

[27]Amy Mitchell, Katie Simmons, Katerina Eva Matsa, and Laura Silver, “Global publics want politically balanced news, but do not think their news media are doing very well in this area,” Pew Research Center, January 11, 2018, https://www.pewglobal.org/2018/01/11/global-publics-want-politically-balanced-news-but-do-not-think-their-news-media-are-doing-very-well-in-this-area/.


Why Social Media Are Still Worth Saving

作者:Adrian Shahbaz,技术与民主研究总监

By Adrian Shahbaz, Research Director, Technology and Democracy

一名与会者在 Telangana Gadwal 参加一个提高假新闻意识的活动时,手持一部显示在 WhatsApp 上分享的虚假信息的手机。

An attendee holds a mobile phone displaying a fake message shared on WhatsApp while attending an event to raise awareness of fake news in Gadwal, Telangana, India.

在 Gadwal,Telangana,一名男子手持一部显示在 WhatsApp 上分享的虚假信息的手机,参加一个旨在提高人们对虚假新闻认识的活动。图片来源:Dhiraj singh / bloomberg via Getty Images。

A man holds a mobile phone displaying a fake message shared on WhatsApp while attending an event to raise awareness of fake news in Gadwal, Telangana, India. Photo Credit: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images.


Key Findings


Social media dramatically expand access to information and freedom of expression, and in repressive and troubled countries they remain a lifeline to journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens attempting to exercise their democratic rights.


Dismissing social media as a cesspool of lies and vitriol plays directly into the hands of authoritarians looking to increase state hegemony over the information landscape.


The governments most guilty of pumping out misleading propaganda and surreptitiously manipulating social media through paid trolls and automated accounts are often the same ones that propose to solve the problem by restricting civil liberties.


In order to tackle disinformation without curbing freedom of expression, government regulation should concentrate on certain aspects of companies’ conduct, not the speech of their users.

在最近反对独裁统治者奥马尔·巴希尔(Omar al-Bashir)的起义爆发之前,多年来,苏丹女孩一直在 Facebook 上一个专门挖掘当地男孩丑闻的小组里分享她们恋爱时的照片——这是一种众包背景调查。但在2018年9月,随着安全人员加大对新生的反政府抗议运动的镇压力度,该网络动员起来,以识别和制止国家安全人员的侵权行为。"你可以把国家情报和安全局(National Intelligence and Security Service)的任何人的任何照片发布出去,"苏丹侨民中的活动人士阿扎兹·埃尔沙米(Azaz Elshami)说,"他们会告诉你他是谁、住在哪里、手机号码、家人等等。" 这一过程非常有效,以至于令人非常担心的国家情报和安全局人员不得不在公共场合戴上面具,以避免被认出。

For years before the recent uprising against authoritarian ruler Omar al-Bashir, Sudanese girls had shared pictures of their romantic crushes in a Facebook group dedicated to digging up dirt on local boys—a sort of crowdsourced background check. But as security agents escalated their crackdown on the nascent antigovernment protest movement in September 2018, the network mobilized to identify and deter abuses by state security personnel. “You can post any photo for any person of the National Intelligence and Security Service,” said Azaz Elshami, an activist in the Sudanese diaspora, “and they will give you who he is, where he lives, his mobile number, family, all that.” The process was so effective that agents of the much-feared NISS had to wear masks in public to avoid identification.

然而,在抗议期间,很明显,同样的数字工具可能被政府操纵,以传播虚假信息。1月,当苏丹警察对示威者使用实弹时,苏丹侨民维护的一个新闻网站报道了三人死亡,其中包括16岁的 Mohamed al-Obeid。当地记者迅速在社交媒体上分享了他的照片,并很快传播到国际媒体上。随着活动人士试图查明男孩身份的更多细节,怀疑的声音越来越大,直到最终人们发现,这张照片描绘的是遥远的巴西警察暴力事件的后果。苏丹活动人士得出结论认为,这张假照片是国家情报和安全局的一个互联网恶棍团队制造的,该团队以散布诽谤和谎言而闻名。

However, it became clear during the protests that the same digital tools could be manipulated by the government to spread disinformation. In January, when Sudanese police used live ammunition against the demonstrators, a news site maintained by the Sudanese diaspora reported the death of three individuals, including 16-year-old Mohamed al-Obeid. Local journalists rapidly shared his image on social media, and it soon spread to international media outlets. As activists attempted to ascertain more details about the boy’s identity, suspicion grew, until ultimately it became clear that the image depicted the aftermath of police violence in far-off Brazil. Sudanese activists concluded that the fraudulent image was the work of a team of NISS internet trolls known for disseminating smears and falsehoods.


“It was a trap,” one citizen journalist tweeted, “orchestrated to discredit us all.”


Sudan’s revolution, like the Arab Spring before it, has showcased both the positive and the negative potential of social media. At a time when the harmful aspects of these platforms are being exposed and debated around the world, the fact that they have also delivered vital benefits should not be forgotten. They have fostered a rise in citizen journalism and activism and allowed independent reporters to continue reaching news consumers in environments where traditional outlets have fallen under government control, and their transnational nature has provided a measure of protection against state censorship. The challenge for policymakers, technology companies, and civil society today is to prevent malicious state and nonstate actors from poisoning the digital sphere while protecting and enhancing the conditions and qualities that allow the internet to bolster media freedom and advance democracy.


In Sudan, the democracy movement and press freedom will rise or fall together

特色档案:Reem Abbas

Featured Profile: Reem Abbas

记者,作家,获奖博客作者 Reem Abbas 在苏丹历史的关键时刻报道了苏丹的人权和政治。四月,经过四个月的大规模抗议活动,苏丹独裁总统奥马尔·巴希尔在一场宫廷政变中下台。这些事件结束了长达30年的统治,这种统治被包括记者在内的持不同政见者的暴力镇压所破坏。虽然苏丹的政治命运仍然不确定,但巴希尔的被免职让阿巴斯这样的记者得以暂时摆脱他所营造的高压环境。

Journalist, writer, and award-winning blogger Reem Abbas is covering human rights and politics in Sudan at a critical juncture in its history. In April, after four months of massive protests, Sudan’s authoritarian president Omar al-Bashir was removed from power in a palace coup. The events brought about the end of a 30-year reign marred by the violent repression of dissidents, including journalists. While Sudan’s political fate remains uncertain, al-Bashir’s removal has granted journalists like Abbas a reprieve from the repressive environment he cultivated.


While the proliferation of social media allowed Abbas some freedom to disseminate independent reporting on her blog and among her 34,000 Twitter followers, she was never free from the threat of reprisals while al-Bashir was in power. “I was always fearful because of the stories I’d written,” Abbas says. Social media blocks during the protests, though routinely circumvented, served as another reminder that critical voices were not welcome in Sudan.


Now, Abbas feels far safer, and is more able to work without facing practical impediments. She can write freely and confidently. Perhaps most valuably in her eyes, she can name her sources without fear that they will face retaliation.


Yet Sudan’s newly liberalized media environment brings with it significant responsibilities. “We need a lot of capacity building for us to actually be able to deliver and do justice to this uprising, and to the people who fought for this country,” Abbas says. Furthermore, the media market was stunted under al-Bashir, and is not designed to support independent journalism. Outlets are under resourced, and like many of her peers, Abbas must support herself through consulting positions while still making time to write. She worries that the polarization of news outlets poses an obstacle to the development of sustainable independent journalism.


Nevertheless, Sudan’s opening environment offers Abbas and her colleagues the promise of pursuing their passion with fewer constraints. “When I’m writing about a topic,” she says, “I’m living it, and I’m breathing it; I really want to give voice to the people I’m interviewing.”


The internet as a refuge for media diversity


Almost from its inception, the internet offered new media spaces unspoiled by government intrusion. Blogs, online news outlets, and social media platforms provided alternatives to progovernment television, radio, and print outlets. Even in a place as repressive as Saudi Arabia, liberal poets challenged religious dogma, and young bloggers chronicled the mental gymnastics of embracing foreign pop culture while upholding Saudi customs. This ballooning of freedom was eventually deflated by state authorities who cracked down on critical thinking and “un-Islamic” ideas. While individuals in many countries remain uninhibited in their ability to publish facts and opinions, they may face punishment for what they publish—freedom of speech does not always extend to freedom after speech.

尽管如此,在面临新闻自由急剧下降的国家,互联网可以成为一个重要的堡垒。自2016年未遂政变以来,土耳其关闭了近150家新闻机构,数百名记者面临支持恐怖主义的虚假指控。因此,许多媒体专业人士转移到了网上。著名记者 nsal nl 在他的家庭办公室经营着一个播客,而像 Dokuz8这样的初创公司正在测试数字优先报道的新模式。那些被迫完全离开土耳其的人,比如 Yavuz Baydar 和 Can d ndar,已经在新的平台上播放了来自海外的独立新闻,比如 Ahval 和 zg r z。虽然官方屏蔽了他们的信息,但是他们的信息仍然可以通过大多数社交媒体服务和虚拟专用网络(vpn)获得,这使得用户可以绕过政府的审查。

Nonetheless, in countries facing drastic and sudden declines in press freedom, the internet can be an important redoubt. Almost 150 news outlets have been closed in Turkey since the 2016 coup attempt, with hundreds of journalists facing spurious charges of supporting terrorism. As a result, many media professionals have moved online. Prominent journalist Ünsal Ünlü runs a podcast from his home office, while start-ups like Dokuz8 are testing new models of digital-first reporting. Those who have been forced to leave Turkey altogether, such as Yavuz Baydar and Can Dündar, have broadcast independent news from overseas on new platforms like Ahval and Özgürüz. Though officially blocked, their coverage remains accessible on most social media services and via virtual private networks (VPNs) that enable users to skirt government censorship.

与此同时,世界各国政府继续将严格的新闻法和视听法规延伸到网络领域,试图让网络媒体俯首帖耳。巴基斯坦的新闻自由环境受到严格限制,目前正在审议的一项法案将对在线记者和新闻机构实行许可证制度。2018年3月,乌干达当局发布了新的要求,要求在线出版商、新闻平台和无线电运营商必须获得该国通信委员会的授权。2018年12月对白俄罗斯《媒体法》的修正案扩大了传统媒体的定义,将网络媒体和相关网站包括在内,导致一些享有相对编辑自由的独立新闻网站被屏蔽。在埃及,2018年8月通过的类似立法为封锁属于人权组织和新闻机构的数十个网站提供了法律依据。暴发户 Mada Masr 是一个进步的新闻网站,创建者是2013年被《埃及独立报》(Egypt Independent)赶出的年轻记者。

Meanwhile, governments around the world have continued to extend strict press laws and audiovisual codes to the online realm in an attempt to bring online media to heel. A bill now under consideration in Pakistan, whose press freedom environment is highly restricted, would impose a licensing regime on online journalists and news outlets. Authorities in Uganda in March 2018 issued new requirements obliging online publishers, news platforms, and radio operators to obtain authorization from the country’s Communications Commission. Amendments to Belarus’s Media Law in December 2018 expanded the definition of traditional media to include online outlets and related websites, resulting in the blocking of several independent news sites that had enjoyed relative editorial freedom. In Egypt, similar legislation adopted in August 2018 has provided a legal basis for blocking dozens of websites belonging to human rights organizations and news outlets. The upstart Mada Masr, a progressive news site created by young journalists who were pushed out of Egypt Independent in 2013, was among the targets.


International platforms as a buffer against censorship

虽然许多地方政府显然不能容忍一个不受约束的在线新闻行业,但主要的国际技术平台是抵御这种审查趋势的重要缓冲器。例如,Mada Masr 继续将内容直接发布到其 Facebook 页面上,而土耳其的 Medyascope 运营着一个 YouTube 频道。

While many local governments are clearly intolerant of an unfettered online news sector, major international technology platforms serve as an important buffer against such censorial tendencies. Mada Masr, for example, continues to post content directly to its Facebook page, while Turkey’s Medyascope runs a YouTube channel.


Due the rollout of strong encryption technology by most companies, governments can no longer order internet service providers to bar access to specific content within a tech platform, such as an individual account or group page. This has resulted in a growing imbalance between large tech companies and many governments, which must persuade executives or administrators based overseas to remove a given post. Many US-based companies deliberately refrain from setting up operations in more repressive countries where their employees could face punishment for failing to adhere to a government request that would violate the human rights of their local users.


Perhaps the most powerful media tool provided by such international platforms is live streaming. The feature is now built into many mobile applications and social media services, allowing anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection to double as an amateur television crew with global reach. Particularly in countries where leaders or political factions dispute facts on the ground, live streaming provides a higher degree of credibility than any other media form. Unlike with a news article or photograph, it is difficult to dispute the timing, location, and creator of a live stream. The format is also highly transparent and interactive. Anyone watching a live stream can type questions or comments that are automatically superimposed within the video for all to see, including the streamers themselves, who often respond to comments in real time.

白俄罗斯和亚美尼亚的博客作者和记者使用 Facebook Live 和其他直播服务,挑战政府关于反政府抗议规模或目标的说法,并记录安全部队常常采取的强硬措施。在委内瑞拉,像 Efecto Cocuyo("萤火虫效应")这样的激进媒体初创企业使用直播平台 Periscope 提供一个替代主导的亲政府新闻媒体的选择。他们的记者报道反对派人士的新闻发布会,地方立法机构的会议,以及官方媒体等同于武装暴乱或拒绝承认的大规模抗议活动。

Bloggers and journalists in Belarus and Armenia have used Facebook Live and other live-streaming services to challenge the government’s claims on the size or goal of antigovernment protests, and to document security forces’ often heavy-handed response. In Venezuela, activist media start-ups like Efecto Cocuyo (“Firefly Effect”) use the live-streaming platform Periscope to provide an alternative to the dominant progovernment news outlets. Their journalists cover press conferences by opposition figures, the proceedings of local legislatures, and large protests that state media equate with armed riots or refuse to acknowledge.

民主国家中更多的传统媒体参与者也在沿着这些路线进行自己的实验。来自法国、德国、联合王国和美国的公共广播公司联手开发了一个土耳其语新闻频道,该频道将在 YouTube 上独家播放。"+ 90"频道的既定目标是"提供独立、准确的信息,促进言论自由和对时事的多种观点。" 由于其总部位于海外,土耳其当局对其报道感到不满,因此需要说服这家总部位于硅谷的主机服务公司对一家美国政府资助的新闻服务机构进行审查。

More traditional media players in democracies have engaged in their own experiments along these lines. Public broadcasters from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States teamed up to develop a Turkish-language news channel that will air exclusively on YouTube. The stated goal of the channel, +90, is to “provide independent and accurate information that promotes free speech and a multitude of perspectives on current affairs.” Since it is based overseas, Turkish authorities upset over its coverage would need to convince the Silicon Valley–based hosting company to censor a US government–funded news service.

但国际社交媒体平台也不能完全免受政府压力的影响。在越南这个当局严格控制信息流动的一党制国家,国内外的一个民主活动人士网络运营着一个 Facebook 页面,向大约130万名追随者提供对这个专制政权的独立看法。尽管 Facebook 高管谢丽尔·桑德伯格(Sheryl Sandberg)在国会作证时提到,该公司避免在专制国家建立实体存在,以避免遵守政治审查,但在5月初,该平台确实从该活动团体 vi something t n 中删除了至少7篇文章,理由是"当地法律限制" 这些帖子报道了越南总统的健康状况,当时当局已经对这个话题发布了严格的媒体封锁。路透社在 vi something t t n 最初报道此事的10天后"爆出"了总统病情的新闻。

But international social media platforms are not exactly immune from government pressure. In Vietnam, a one-party state where the authorities maintain a tight grip on information flows, a network of democratic activists based inside and outside the country run a Facebook page that provides an independent take on the repressive regime to some 1.3 million followers. While Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg mentioned in congressional testimony that the company refrains from establishing a physical presence in repressive countries in order avoid complying with political censorship, the platform did remove at least seven stories from the activist group in question, Việt Tân, in early May, citing “local legal restrictions.” The posts covered the health condition of Vietnam’s president at a time when the authorities had issued a strict media blackout on the subject. Reuters “broke” a story on the president’s illness over 10 days after Việt Tân had initially covered it.

专制国家的活动人士担心,像 Facebook 这样的公司可能会因为财政或法律原因而更加一致地服从政府的命令。越南最近通过了一项类似于中国的网络安全法,要求企业将越南用户的数据存储在位于该国境内的服务器上。如果主要的国际平台服从,当地用户的私人通信将在越南安全机构的能力范围之内,他们认为非暴力的政治活动是对国家安全的威胁。由于坚持和平民主改革,脱离一党专政,六同已经被打上恐怖组织的烙印。

Activists in autocratic countries are concerned that companies like Facebook could move toward complying more consistently with government orders for financial or legal reasons. Vietnam recently passed a cybersecurity law, closely modeled on China’s, that requires companies to store data about Vietnamese users on servers located within the country. If major international platforms were to obey, the private communications of local users would be within the reach of Vietnamese security agencies, who consider nonviolent political activism to be a threat to national security. Already, Việt Tân has been branded a terrorist organization for its insistence on peaceful democratic reform away from one-party rule.


If you can’t censor them, exploit them


There is a dark side to the freedom that digital media offer. To the extent that various online platforms and applications have created an information space beyond anyone’s authoritative control, malicious state and nonstate actors are exploiting it to advance their respective agendas.

Facebook 旗下的即时通讯服务 WhatsApp 就是一个很好的例子。不像 Facebook 和 Twitter,用户的默认隐私设置是"公开的",WhatsApp 的信息是为更私密的交流而设计的。它们是端到端加密的,这意味着即使是公司本身也无法访问它们,只能访问目标接收者。群聊的管理员必须"邀请"新参与者,确保一定程度的审查。因此,在 WhatsApp 使用率很高的几十个国家,大片在线媒体领域实际上已经被隐藏起来了。

The messaging service WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is a case in point. Unlike Facebook proper and Twitter, where the default privacy setting for users is “public,” WhatsApp messages are designed for more private communications. They are end-to-end encrypted, meaning not even the company itself has access to them, only the intended recipients. Administrators of group chats must “invite” new participants, ensuring a degree of vetting. Thus in the dozens of countries where WhatsApp usage is high, large swathes of the online media landscape have become, effectively, hidden from view.

这些品质——增加信任和降低透明度——被恶意的行为者用来加深社会分裂,甚至非法影响选举。在自由之家2018年网络自由报告涵盖的65个国家中,有32个国家发生了支付亲政府评论员干预社交媒体的事件,包括 WhatsApp,通常是为了诽谤政治反对派或批评性记者。

These qualities—increased trust and decreased transparency—have been used by malevolent actors to deepen social divisions and even illegally influence elections. In the 65 countries covered by Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2018 report, 32 had instances in which paid progovernment commentators intervened on social media, including WhatsApp, usually to smear the political opposition or critical journalists.

在巴西,《页页报》(Folha)的一项调查显示,一些商业团体非法资助了极右翼总统候选人杰尔·博尔索纳罗(Jair Bolsonaro)2018年的竞选活动,在 WhatsApp 上发布了大约300万美元的群众信息。这些团体还通过第三方服务收集电话号码,这是巴西选举法所禁止的。

In Brazil, an investigation by the newspaper Folha revealed that business groups had illegally contributed to the successful 2018 campaign of far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro by funding some $3 million in mass messages on WhatsApp. The groups also collected phone numbers through a third-party service, which is prohibited under Brazilian electoral laws.

在印度,在4月至5月的大选期间,各种平台上充斥着经过修改的图片和假新闻。Facebook 宣布,它已经删除了逾1000个页面,理由是违反了垃圾邮件政策,以及"有组织的不真实行为" 各政党相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,相互之间,。印度教民族主义者尤其擅长散布谣言,称反对党偏袒穆斯林而不是普通民众。执政的印度教民族主义印度人民党组织所谓的网络军队声称有120万志愿者。

In India, where doctored images and fake news abounded on various platforms during the April–May general elections, Facebook announced that it had removed over 1,000 pages for violating policies on spam and “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Political parties circulate propaganda and misleading claims about one another, religious minorities, and critical journalists. Hindu nationalists in particular have grown adept at spreading false rumors that characterize opposition parties as favoring Muslims over the general population. The so-called cyber army of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party claims to have 1.2 million volunteers.

宗教和族裔极端分子还可能将技术平台武器化,以煽动针对少数群体的暴力行为。今年斯里兰卡发生复活节恐怖袭击后,该国当局屏蔽了 Facebook、 WhatsApp、 Instagram 和 Viber,以防止进一步的暴力事件。关于攻击者身份的虚假信息以及潜在的额外攻击已经开始在社交媒体上传播。

Tech platforms may also be weaponized by religious and ethnic extremists to incite violence against minorities. In the aftermath of the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka this year, the country’s authorities blocked Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Viber as a precaution against further violence. False information about the attackers’ identities and potential additional attacks had already begun to spread on social media.


But blocking access to communication tools is a blunt and ultimately ineffective instrument for stemming disinformation and other false news, which can continue to spread via word of mouth and even mainstream media; social media, meanwhile, can be useful in debunking erroneous reports. For example, in Sri Lanka the authorities disseminated a photo of a woman on national television, alleging that she was involved in the Easter attacks. They realized only later, after internet users traced the photo to a US-based student, that it was a case of mistaken identity.


How and how not to regulate


Despite their great utility and positive potential in repressive environments, online media and major technology companies in particular have come under harsh criticism for their management—or failure to manage—problems like disinformation, hate speech, and incitement to violence, all of which threaten the fabric of democratic societies. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been accused in the United States of colluding to censor conservatives, while European policymakers and the public at large are pushing back against the perceived ways in which tech platforms have disrupted the media ecosystem. A survey of 27 countries around the globe found that trust in social media was lowest in North America and Europe, where distorted online content has been credited with aiding the rise of right-wing populist demagogues.


The best remedy for bad or erroneous speech remains more and better speech, not enforced silence. Yet on today’s online platforms, undemocratic and illiberal actors seem to have a louder megaphone. Studies have shown that dubious information intended to spark outrage gains greater visibility on social media than more sober, truthful content. The platforms’ own algorithms appear designed to amplify content that generates high levels of engagement, even if the result is a rush to ever greater extremes. These dynamics mean that content disseminated by a very small but coordinated and radical network of individuals or accounts—including those orchestrated by undemocratic parties or regimes—can easily overshadow the views of the more moderate majority.


In light of these and other problems, the technology sector does need greater regulation. But defenders of democracy should be wary of any push for state regulation that aims to define acceptable and unacceptable speech and entails a reduction in freedom of expression. It is instructive that the very governments most guilty of pumping out misleading propaganda and surreptitiously manipulating social media through paid trolls and automated “bot” accounts are often the ones that propose to solve the problem by restricting civil liberties.


Instead, governments should find other ways to improve companies’ performance. Policymakers could establish independent multistakeholder bodies to evaluate companies’ content moderation practices for transparency, proportionality, and the effectiveness of appeal processes. Such bodies can also set minimum standards for the detection and elimination of coordinated inauthentic activity, such as paid trolls and bot accounts, as well as guidelines for political advertising during election campaigns. In addition, public officials should regulate other aspects of the sector through the lens of antitrust laws and privacy protections, since they have important consequences for freedom of expression in a democracy. The overarching goal of such regulation should be to protect and augment the constructive role that online communication platforms can play in all societies.


Social media are a crucial part of the modern media ecosystem. They dramatically expand access to information and freedom of expression, and in repressive and troubled countries they remain a lifeline to journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens attempting to exercise their democratic rights. Rather than surrendering these services to the malevolent forces that have exploited their weaknesses, democracies must fight back in a way that is consistent with their own long-standing values.




For governments:


Concentrate on conduct, not content. Antitrust actions can help stimulate competition, making platforms more likely to improve their services in response to public pressure. Regulatory interventions can also be used to strengthen users’ privacy and control over their own data, and to bolster safeguards against hacking and other cybersecurity threats. Election laws should be amended where necessary and vigorously enforced to ensure transparency in online campaign activities and prevent covert foreign interference. When it comes to speech, policymakers should establish independent multistakeholder bodies to evaluate companies’ content moderation practices for transparency, proportionality, and the effectiveness of appeal processes. These bodies could also set minimum standards for the detection and elimination of coordinated inauthentic activity, such as paid trolls and bot accounts.

确保所有与互联网有关的法律和做法符合国际人权法和标准。各国政府应该建立定期审查,以评估其关于网络言论的法律和实践是否符合美国世界人权宣言和美国公民权利和政治权利国际公约协会概述的原则。任何监管社交媒体的提议都应该根据其对言论自由可能产生的影响进行审查,特别是涉及到妇女、少数民族和宗教少数群体、 LGBT(女同性恋、男同性恋、双性恋和变性者)以及其他弱势群体。

Ensure that all internet-related laws and practices adhere to international human rights law and standards. National governments should establish periodic reviews to assess whether their laws and practices regarding online speech conform to the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Any proposals to regulate social media should be examined in light of their likely impact on freedom of expression, particularly as it relates to women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people, and other vulnerable groups.


Support research and information sharing. Public officials should provide resources to universities, nongovernmental organizations, and investigative journalists working to understand, detect, and share instances of coordinated inauthentic activity, particularly by state and quasi-state actors. Specific grants can be designed to strengthen civil society’s outreach to tech platforms, especially in countries of the global south.


For companies:


Ensure fair and transparent content moderation practices. In order to fairly and transparently moderate public posts within their platforms and services, private companies should do the following: (1) Clearly and concretely define what speech is not permissible in their guidelines and terms of service. (2) If certain speech needs to be curbed, when appropriate, consider less invasive actions before restricting it outright, for example warning users that they are violating terms of service and adjusting algorithms that might unintentionally promote disinformation or incitement to violence. (3) Ensure that content removal requests by governments are in compliance with international human rights standards. (4) Publish detailed transparency reports on content takedowns—both for those initiated by governments and for those undertaken by the companies themselves. (5) Provide an efficient avenue for appeal for users who believe that their speech was unduly restricted.


Engage in continuous dialogue with local civil society organizations. Companies should seek out local expertise on the political and cultural context in markets where they have a presence or where their products are widely used. These consultations with civil society groups should inform the companies’ approach to content moderation, government requests, and countering disinformation, among other things.


Label or eliminate automated “bot” accounts. Recognizing that bots can be used for both helpful and harmful purposes, and acknowledging their role in spreading disinformation, companies should strive to provide clear labeling for suspected bot accounts. Those that remain harmful even if labeled should be eliminated from the platform. Although today’s technology allows reasonably high accuracy in bot recognition, companies should also establish transparent remedial mechanisms to remove the bot designation from any account that may have been mislabeled.


2019-06-07 14:28  c1042192  精选




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