My co-author Dr. Maria Repnikova wrote an Op-Ed for The Washington Post and introduced our research:
my research with the researcher Kecheng Fang at the University of Pennsylvania shows that the decline of traditional channels for party propaganda has inspired Chinese authorities to take advantage of digital platforms to make persuasion more playful and interactive. Since 2014, party media outlets have recruited young talent to launch and operate their public WeChat accounts. These accounts, many with intentionally different names from their official media umbrellas, mix politics with entertainment content and even relationship advice.
These outlets are also highly interactive. Some platforms allow users to track Xi’s travels, while others offer a chance to win apple-picking vouchers and Kindles in exchange for reposting official content. Social media users take part in a process we describe as “authoritarian participatory persuasion 2.0” whereby digital persuasion content is increasingly co-produced through interactions between officials and online users.