When I suggest to people they should be more careful about their online behaviors, like posting for fake National Daughters and Sons Days, and answering random questions on random Facebook accounts, and including having Chinese-government-owned apps like TikTok on their phones, this is why. Not a joke and not a drill.
tl;dr “Chinese theorists…believe that the development of information technology has reached its limits, and that future wars will occur in the cognitive domain. … Influencing human cognition requires a large amount of detailed personal information to identify influential individuals or to conduct influential operations according to the characteristics of subgroups of people. China has already collected a massive amount of personal information on government officials and ordinary U.S. citizens, ensuring a foundation for influencing people’s cognition. … The Chinese government has then allowed Chinese IT giants to process this large amount of data, making it useful for intelligence activities. In this way, China has accumulated an enormous amount of data over the years which could be weaponized in the future.”