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Carter, Darrell, Maddison Westcott, Ruth Boitel, and Austin Horng-En Wang. 2023. “Puppet Anchors and China’s YouTube Information Operation.” Taiwan Politics, December.
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Abstract

Over two thousand “puppet-anchor” YouTube videos—videos that utilize real anchors copy-pasted from other clips with their mouths covered and their voices machine-generated—were uploaded and received more than 30 million views between June of 2020 and October of 2021. This article argues that the coinciding publication times, pattern, and similar pro-China content across these videos from eight channels suggest a new type of coordinated information operation (which was officially confirmed, with the videos being taken down, by YouTube). Additionally, this article discusses several advantages these puppet-anchor videos offer the Chinese government, including their low cost, their ability to enhance the apparent legitimacy of disinformation, and the fact that they make it easier for the older generation to consume propaganda.

Accepted: November 01, 2023 CDT