China always had a peculiar relationship with the Internet. It has been intermittent until 1994 and never really free. The government saw it as a danger, but also as a very powerful weapon that they have to control, therefore they implemented a massive surveillance and content control system. As politics in China put great effort into propaganda, they use it as an unbeatable tool of dissemination of news to assure public order. Since 2008 China is also the largest population on the Internet (700M), it goes without saying that it is placed under the supervision of the Chinese Republic itself.
A study by Harvard University researchers examined China's "Fifty Cent Party", a group of trolls blamed for flooding the country's web with pro-regime posts. What they found out is that these trolls are not common people, as previously thought, they are actually employees working for the government. They analyzed 43.900 posts and discovered that 99.3% of them were published by staff members of the regime, working for more than 200 agencies, including tax and social security and human resources bureaux. These online propagandists avoid controvert topics and fabricate nearly 490M posts every year. Kind of a brain-wash propaganda of the new millenia.
These posts consists of “cheer-leading and positive discussions which, we infer, is a strategy designed is to actively distract and redirect public attention from ongoing criticism, other grievances, or collective action” writes one of the authors of the study. “An argument in almost any human discussion is rarely an effective way to put an end to an opposing argument. Letting an argument die, or changing the subject, usually works much better than picking an argument and getting someone’s back up (as new parents recognise fast)”.
Source: NPR. Image: Dadaviz.com, News.investors.com