The Guardian reports: The Chinese government is fabricating almost 490m social media posts a year in order to distract the public from criticising or questioning its rule, according to a study.
China’s “Fifty Cent Party” – a legion of freelance online trolls so-named because they are believed to be paid 50 cents a post – has long been blamed for flooding the Chinese internet with pro-regime messages designed to defend and promote the ruling Communist party.
However, the study by Harvard University researchers (pdf) claims many of those comments are not posted by ordinary citizens, as previously thought, but by civil servants who double as online stooges.
An analysis of nearly 43,800 posts found that 99.3% were the work of government employees working for more than 200 agencies, including tax and social security and human resources bureaux. [Continue reading…]