All your opinion are belong to Us

The BBC's Virtual Revolution documentary contained a fascinating relation: the Chinese government pays a massive astroturfing army to massage public opinion on Chinese blogs and message boards. They're known pejoratively as "Wu Mao Dang" - 'the 50 Cent Army' - because that's what they're paid for each pro-government posting they make.

That's the carrot. Here's the stick. A blogger called Tan Zuoren started asking questions about why so many schools collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake. A lot of Communist Party buildings survived. Shoddy building standards? Backhanders? He was jailed for 5 years yesterday. Don't ask questions, comrade.

A friend suggested, in the spirit of Swift, that the Chinese should outsource their astroturfing to the American public. The US could then pay back its foreign debt, 50 cents at a time...


Unknown said...

Well, Jaron, you'll be surprised probably, but pro-government opinion on Russian political message boards is very strong, too. The supporters of the opposition are hardly more visible on the web than at various official elections. There is also talk about specially hired KGB agents who make pro-government posts on the web, but this is clearly BS. My point is, the Chinese message board participants are probably genuinely pro-government.

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