Crowd Surfing in China


Two years ago, Chinese President Hu Jintao called on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members to a€oeassert supremacy over online public opinion, raise the level and study the art of online guidance and actively use new technologies to increase the strength of positive propaganda.a€A

After Hu’s speech, Communist Party officials and the State Council issued an official call for a€oecomrades of good ideological and political character, high capability and familiarity with the Internet to form teams of Web commentators … who can employ methods and language Web users can accept to actively guide online public opinion.a€A

The CCP has hired thousands of freelance Internet propagandists whose job is to infiltrate chat rooms, message boards and comment areas on the Internet posing as ordinary users to voice support for the agenda and interest of the CCP. They praise Chinaa€™s one-party system and condemn anyone who criticizes Chinaa€™s policy on Tibet. They comment aggressively on news reports about Chinaa€™s food-safety problems, relations with Taiwan, suppression of bird-flu and AIDS information, Internet censorship, jailing of dissidents, support of Sudana€™s military in Darfur and other sensitive topics. Comments applaud the Chinese government and slam its critics, all using scripts and lines approved by the party.

The BBC calls these freelance propagandists China’s 50 Cent Party. The Guardian newspaper calls it the 50 Cent Army. (50 Cent isna€™t a rapper in this case, but a reference to the pay: 50 Chinese "cents" per post, which is equivalent to about 7 US cents). Other names include a€oered vestsa€A and the a€oered vanguard.a€A

Some estimates claim that the 50 Cent Army includes a whopping 300,000 people. If thata€™s accurate, China’s freelance propagandists exceed in number the total populations of 47 countries.

Article can be found -> itmanagement.earthweb


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