Chinese government pays internet users to troll

Discussion in 'China' started by hit&run, May 16, 2011.

  1. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    China pays internet users to flood web forums with pro-government propaganda

    From correspondents in Beijing
    From: AFP May 16, 2011 12:00PM

    Along with an army of censors that police the internet, China also deploys legions of "web commentators".

    CHINA, which employs an army of censors to police the internet, has also deployed legions of "web commentators" to get the government's message out in a crafty but effective way.
    With nearly half a billion people surfing the net in China, more than half of them using microblogs, the internet has quickly become a vital forum for debate in the world's most populous country — and a major sounding board.

    That fact has obviously registered with the country's Communist leaders, who pay careful attention to the conversations that unfold online despite heavy restrictions on what can and cannot be discussed in cyberspace.

    Enter the "web commentators" who, either anonymously or using pseudonyms, spread politically correct arguments — many of them for money.

    So who are these high-tech propaganda wizards, infiltrating blogs, news sites and chat rooms?

    .."It is very mysterious... these people don't talk to the media. Everyone is just guessing," says Jeremy Goldkorn, editor of the China media website Danwei.org.

    For high-profile independent Chinese blogger Li Ming, the army of pro-government web commentators must number "at least in the tens of thousands".

    Renaud de Spens, a Beijing-based expert on the Chinese internet, says most of the propaganda bloggers are likely to be students "doing a basic cut-and-paste job" — a mindless task, "just like if they took jobs in telemarketing".

    Some of those students are trying to improve their chances of gaining a coveted party membership.

    But the group of web spin doctors also includes civil servants and employees of state-owned firms — and even retirees and housewives keen to support the party line.

    De Spens notes that the system is far from centralised.

    "The provinces, cities, districts and work units all rally their own small armies to infiltrate the internet in a subtle way," he said.

    In 2010, the Global Times reported that Gansu province alone was looking to recruit 650 full-time web commentators "to guide public opinion on controversial issues".

    Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty in March warned that countries like China and Iran were investing "considerable resources into pro-government blogs" in an effort to cement state power.

    About five years ago, when blogs first took off in China, the country saw its first "wu mao" — net commentators paid by the message to spread the official party line.

    "Wu mao" is a Chinese slang term for web commenters. It literally means "50 cents" — the term is used to describe people who can be easily paid-off to support the government’s agenda.

    But according to De Spens, they were progressively replaced by a new breed of online government workers — who are more subtle and more effective.

    "It certainly seems that they have gotten more sophisticated," says Bill Bishop, co-founder of the news site MarketWatch who now blogs about the internet in China.

    "They have been doing this for years. They have been very good at learning how to use the internet."

    Instead of posting simple slogans such as "Long live our leaders" or "Long live the party", the web commentators develop detailed, rational arguments.

    On the crisis in Libya, they have published comments slamming the hypocrisy of the West in launching air strikes against the regime of Moamer Kadhafi — a campaign opposed by Beijing — saying they are only interested in oil.

    "There is a subliminal effect — the message gets into people's heads, even the dissidents, especially the arguments that make sense," De Spens said.

    Other recent hot topics include the US raid that resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, China's efforts to build an aircraft carrier, equal opportunity in education, food safety and vegetable prices.

    On Sina Weibo — China's answer to Twitter, which is officially blocked on the mainland — the pro-government netizens are working on tainting the reputation of detained artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

    Web commentators "are paid based on the number of comments they post, and they can also get a bonus if one of their posts is named one of the most popular on the site," Li explained.

    Experts are divided on the overall effectiveness of the massive web operation.

    "On the main hot topics, three days into the debate, only the propaganda remains online," creating a "false general opinion" which the great majority of web users will blindly follow, De Spens said.

    "That is the major success of Chinese propaganda."

    But Goldkorn counters that Chinese web users are "quite savvy, they tend not to trust anyone."

    "When there are large numbers of comments that are toeing a government line, it certainly makes it more difficult for people who disagree to have their voice heard above the noise," he nevertheless acknowledged.

    The operation does have an unfortunate downside for the leadership — independent pro-government web users are often accused of being "wu mao", a term that has become an insult.

    AFP Relaxnews

    Read more: China pays internet users to flood web forums with pro-government propaganda | Information, Gadgets, Mobile Phones News & Reviews | News.com.au
     
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  3. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, I want my 50 cents....hahaha.....China government still owns me 50 cents. hhahahah
     
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  4. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    So you accept you are a troll? :D
     
  5. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Why am i surprised.The Chinese govt must take cognizance of the happy fact that,like in all things,Chinese have have turned this act of web trolling into an art.
     
  6. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Old news. After recession and then inflation, it is 60 cents.
     
  7. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Troll or not, he sure is a paid poster and that he accepts.
     
  8. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    Ironic isn't it that he's tagged as a 'Respected member'?
     
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  9. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    We respect his effort to defend his country no matter what :))
     
  10. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Chinese government owes you hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can retire.
     
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  11. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    Its a media ploy that even the west employed during the cold war to let the so called free press impress upon the eastern block how miserable they were.and they employed common man to spread this word around and obviously for exchange of $$$ so its nothing new , many countries employ this , i wish India payed for every post some of our members would have been rich by now .
     
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  12. SpArK

    SpArK SORCERER Senior Member

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    Its a well versed team with some astonishing knowledge on how to identify fellow trolls and derail , change the momentum and direction of any thread. They can create irritation to the core in any sane discussions. These are professionals, and they play their
    game well and of-course yes paid well too...
     
  13. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    Funny thing about this journlist is that he didn't tell another half of story: fifty cents army. The commentors who were supposed to be hired by western pro-democratic organisation to promote democracy among chinese internet users.

    Actually, this name appeared even early before "wu mao army".

    What I saw is just both sides want to throw some mud to its opposite.
     
  14. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    If I were a citizen of PRC, even I would defend it, no matter how bad it were.

    I am Indian. Indian Railways are probably one of the dirtiest railways in the world, but I always talk about how efficient it is, how many people it carries, how much of it is electrified etc.. It is nice that someone is defending his country. For money or not, it is commendable.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  15. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Well you are humble enough to admit your country's negatives. This is what makes you different from paid trolls. Misinformation/lying and defending your country are two different things with two different consequences.
     
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  16. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Well, I do admit the negatives about India, but I highlight them to fellow Indians but while speaking to foreigners, I usually focus on the good side. I want people to have a good opinion about India. In any event, with so many people travelling all over the world these days, lying doesn't really help. People will eventually call a spade a spade. Period.

    I hear lots of people mention how nice the Chinese Railways are. I wish I heard the same thing about Indian Railways. Can we not afford to make things like that? Of course. Unfortunately, it is us who have so much corruption in ourselves. Honestly, with so many Americans, despite not being great political admirers of PRC, admiring the things that PRC has built, I doubt if PRC needs to pay people to troll, except for political purposes.
     
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  17. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    A forum like this doesnt make any sense if everyone here is about nothing more than blindly defending their own country, race or religion regardless of what the reality is.

    If the only thing that matters is saving face - then this forum becomes a joke. Like most of the Chinaman and some Indians on this forum.
    in the case of the Chinese guys - no matter what China does or says - they will forever defend China.
    If tomorrow - China massacred a million people in the restive areas, they would be here the next day defending the action.
    To me most of these guys are a bunch of "doorknobs". There is no intellectual honesty in their positions.
    Their nationalistic fervour overwhelms any logic or rational argument.

    I may be a Christian but that doesnt mean that i will defend everything that Christians do. For instance; if I had my way, I would kick all those missionaries from the US out of India. I may be Indian Malayalee by race, but I am not going to defend everything that pertains to Indian Culture or my Malayalee heritage. I may be a US citizen but I am not going to defend the US in every single instance.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
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  18. Yan Luo Wang

    Yan Luo Wang Regular Member

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    So what is the explanation for Indian trolls on the internet?
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  19. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    Yes absolutely free i guess then you have to see one things there are many pakistanis on the net that pose as indians with a flag because they dont have anything constructive to debate about their nation, some of them even have their indian blogs and forums , but as the way goes you can hide a nuclear reactor in this modern times but cant hide a pakistani.

    on a serious note:-
    read my last post mate on the previous page what china does is common and is done by many nations as i said before.
     
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  20. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    Forum is not the court for making judgement of anything. It is a place for everyone to express their thought. Even you don't like others' opinion, but i think it is worth to learn some different ideas.

    Clearly, you have no idea what is meaning of "save face": the things you thought would bring shame to Chinese gov are not important problems to most of chinese at all.

    I didn't see any Chinese defending any thing like this.

    So far, I haven't see any indian friend crtisizing india's policy in any chinese forum.
     
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    A great instrument for psy ops and spreading disinformation.
     

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