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Thursday, April 1, 2010

China's freelance internet propagandists

A term refers to paid internet commentators working for the People’s Republic of China, whose role is posting comments favorable towards the government policies to skew the public opinion on various Internet message boards.

In 2008, the above number of members was estimated at 300,000, other names include “red vests”, “red vanguard”, and “50 Cent Army”.

The Guardian newspaper calls it the 50-cent Army (a reference to the pay: 50 Chinese “cents” per post, which is equivalent to about 7 US cents) and has published China joins a turf war on Sep. 22, 2008 by Malik Fareed.

The BBC has published China’s internet ‘spin doctors’ on Dec. 16, 2008 by Michael Bristow.

The Datamation warned that the 50 Cent Army Could Wreck Web 2.0 on Jan. 8, 2009 by Mike Elgan.

And the Far Eastern Economic Review also published China’s Guerrilla War for the Web on August 2008 by David Bandurski.

After all, the wikipedia listed even more links in its reference area on this topic: 50 Cent Army.

Chinese cyber hacking, Chinese freelance internet propagandists, self-censorship by foreign corporations doing business with China or by cultural events organizers on events held outside of China but sponsored by Chinese capitals, what have we got left for freedom of speech and access to genuine information?

And that’s not all in China's favor, we have also got “Chinese experts” who run China-related consulting business and at the same time act as advisors for the US government (conflict of interests?!), and those journalists who forget to keep neutrality and feed biased info into our mainstream media.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's another recent article on the subject, from the NYT -

"Not content merely to block dissonant views, the government increasingly employs agents to peddle its views online, in the guise of impartial bloggers and chat-room denizens. And increasingly, it is backing state-friendly clones of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all Western sites that have been blocked here for roughly a year.

The government’s strategy, according to Mr. Bandurski and others, is not just to block unflattering messages, but to overwhelm them with its own positive spin and rebuttals."

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