China Plans 2 Million Paid Social Media Commenters

Thu 24 January 2013 10:00, Vitto Christaldi

China Plans 2 Million Paid Social Media Commenters

The propaganda department of China is planning to hire 2.06 million people as paid commenters on Chinese social media, specifically Chinese microblogging platforms: Weibo.

As reported by TechinAsia, these 2 million commenters will actively influence the users of Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo (both are Chinese microblogging platforms. Each site is owned by different company – Sina Weibo is owned by SINA Corporation and Tencent Weibo is owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd) with propaganda messages. These paid commenters are designed to guide online discussions of sensitive topics into a ‘positive’ direction.

Paid propaganda commenters (or usually called “50 cent”, referring to the payment they get per propaganda comment) are not a new phenomenon in China. The paid propaganda is a way for Chinese government to block new ideas and to avoid a politic revolution.

Weibo services have been strong tools to uncover scandals and controversies in China in the last couple of years (such as the criticism towards Chinese government in the Li Gang incident, the Wenzhou train collision and the 2010 Shanghai fire). Next to paid propaganda commenters, Chinese government also have an automatic checked list of blacklisted keywords (such as for “human rights” and the Chinese human right activist, “Liu Xiaobo”)

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