All FSI Events Seminars

Gaslighting: How Comment Section Controls on Social Media Shapes Public Opinion in China with Prof. Yiqing Xu

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 | 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM (Pacific)

Hybrid Event: Goldman Room E409, Encina Hall | Zoom Meeting

SCCEI Fall Seminar Series 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022      11:00 am -12:15 pm Pacific Time

Goldman Room E401, Encina Hall, 616 Jane Stanford Way | Zoom Meeting 

Gaslighting: How Comment Section Controls on Social Media Shapes Public Opinion in China

Existing literature on information manipulation in authoritarian regimes has examined government strategies for censorship and propaganda separately. This project seeks to bridge the gap by focusing on the intersection of propaganda and censorship in China, where government-affiliated accounts post propaganda content on social media and moderate comments under these posts. To do so, we collect a massive amount of high-frequency user engagement data of top government-affiliated accounts on Sina Weibo, followed by three online survey experiments to investigate effect mechanisms. We show that comment section controls effectively shift public opinion in favor of the government by changing the public’s second-order beliefs of the government or government policies. 

About the Speaker

Headshot of Dr. Yiqing Xu.Yiqing Xu is an Assistant Professor at Department of Political Science, Stanford University. His primary research covers methodology and comparative politics, focusing on China. He received a PhD in Political Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016), an MA in Economics from China Center for Economic Research at Peking University (2010) and a BA in Economics (2007) from Fudan University.

His work has appeared in American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Political Science Research and Methods, among other peer-reviewed journals. He has won several professional awards, including the best article award from American Journal of Political Science in 2016 and the Miller Prize (2018, 2020) for the best work appearing in Political Analysis the preceding year.

Seminar Series Moderators

Headshot of Dr. Scott Rozelle
Rural Education Action Program
Scott Rozelle is the Helen F. Farnsworth Senior Fellow and the co-director of Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University.  For the past 30 years, he has worked on the economics of poverty reduction. Currently, his work on poverty has its full focus on human capital, including issues of rural health, nutrition and education. For the past 20 year, Rozelle has been the chair of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Most recently, Rozelle's research focuses on the economics of poverty and inequality, with an emphasis on rural education, health and nutrition in China. In recognition of this work, Dr. Rozelle has received numerous honors and awards. Among them, he became a Yangtse Scholar (Changjiang Xuezhe) in Renmin University of China in 2008. In 2008 he also was awarded the Friendship Award by Premiere Wen Jiabao, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a foreigner. 


hongbin li headshotHongbin Li is the Co-director of Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions, and a Senior Fellow of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Hongbin obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2001 and joined the economics department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where he became full professor in 2007. He was also one of the two founding directors of the Institute of Economics and Finance at the CUHK. He taught at Tsinghua University in Beijing 2007-2016 and was C.V. Starr Chair Professor of Economics in the School of Economics and Management. He founded the Chinese College Student Survey (CCSS) in 2009 and the China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES) in 2014.

Hongbin’s research has been focused on the transition and development of the Chinese economy, and the evidence-based research results have been both widely covered by media outlets and well read by policy makers around the world. He is currently the co-editor of the Journal of Comparative Economics.


This seminar is a hybrid event. Please join us in person in the Goldman Conference Room located within Encina Hall on the 4th floor of the East wing, or join remotely via Zoom.

Questions? Contact Heather Rahimi at