China floods Facebook with undeclared coronavirus propaganda ads blaming Trump

China floods Facebook with undeclared coronavirus propaganda ads blaming Trump, by Laurence Dodds.

Chinese state media is flooding Facebook and Instagram with undisclosed political adverts whitewashing its role in the coronavirus pandemic and pinning blame on Donald Trump.

Three official news outlets – Xinhua, China Central Television and the Global Times – have targeted users across the world with promoted stories in English, Chinese and Arabic.

The ads, seen millions of times, extolled China’s efforts against Covid-19, downplayed its domestic outbreak, depicted Mr Trump as misguided and racist, and suggested that the virus might have originated in the US.

Yet all of them initially ran without a political disclaimer, allowing them to hide information about who they were targeting and sometimes letting them sidestep Facebook’s strict rules on political advertising.