The Platformization of Propaganda: How Xuexi Qiangguo Expands Persuasion and Assesses Citizens in China
This study examines China’s ambitions to strengthen propaganda by creating a platform called Xuexi Qiangguo. Though platform studies have explored the important role of the U.S.-based platforms, we know very little about the intervention of state power in the design and operation of digital platforms. Using a mixed-methods approach, this article examines the technology, content, and users of Xuexi Qiangguo. The results suggest that the power the platform wields operates through its restrictive control modes, platformized persuasion modes, and user datafication. We reveal that online activities are largely limited to information learning and knowledge testing, and meantime, the platform constantly rates and ranks user behavior. Consequently, Xuexi Qiangguo enables state power to penetrate institutional structures and power relations into the online environment, replacing the conventional multisided markets with state–citizen relations. Our study enriches the understanding of the way in which states operate a platform to reinforce ideological persuasion and citizen assessment.