Beijing-backed social media users flood Web, says Harvard study

(From AP)

China’s government fabricates and posts several hundred million social media posts a year to influence public opinion about the country, according to a new paper by U.S. researchers examining one of the most opaque aspects of the Communist Party’s rule.

Diagrams from a Harvard academic study show a time series of social media posts at left and a network structure of leaked email correspondents at right on computer screens in Beijing

Diagrams from a Harvard academic study of a time series of social media posts at left and a network structure of leaked emails at right on computer screens in Beijing

The academic study led by Harvard political scientist Gary King claims to be one of the first in-depth looks into the inner workings of China’s push to influence public opinion by flooding social media with posts portrayed as if they were coming from ordinary people.

Aside from possessing highly sophisticated censorship controls to find and delete content outright, China’s government has long been known to employ a huge group of internet workers, known colloquially as the “Fifty Cent Party,” to influence discourse in subtler ways.

The name originates from a popular rumor — never substantiated — that such people are paid 50 cents per pro-government post. Read More

 



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