Daniel Wiser documents a disturbing new report for Washington Free Beacon readers.

Russia and other authoritarian states are attempting to co-opt Western social media websites and news outlets to disseminate their own propaganda after unsuccessful efforts to shut them down, according to a new report.

Author and journalist David Patrikarakos wrote in a report for the Legatum Institute, a pro-democracy think tank, that autocratic governments initially tried to block their citizens from using social media sites and Internet services amid fears that they would express their discontent and mobilize against the state. China is reported to have denied access to Google’s email service and search function last December, while Russia briefly banned Wikipedia in August due to a drug-related post.

Still, people have found ways to communicate online and bypass government censors, Patrikarakos wrote.

“Such methods have mostly proved ineffective in stifling social media-based interaction and the dissent that invariably comes with it,” he said. “The truly effective option left open to the authoritarian state is therefore to counteract unauthorized information flows with propaganda of its own—most usefully within the same medium.”

Patrikarakos referred to this technique as “social media hacking,” in which governments appropriate social media sites and Internet search algorithms to spread disinformation and shape a favorable narrative.