Chinese government hires up to 300,000 online trolls to promote Communist Party

It’s certainly not what Tim Berners-Lee had in mind when he devised the technology that brought on the dawn of the internet age.

Instead of free exchange of information and ideas on an equal, global basis, states have either assumed the internet as a new branch of state surveillance, or sought to repress it.

China is a case in point. In addition to the “Great Firewall of China” – internet censorship as prescribed by the government – it has emerged that the Chinese authorities have developed other more insidious means of attempting to shape their citizens’ views.

Chinese authorities are at the forefront of state-sponsored online propaganda, as it has emerged that the country employs up to 300,000 people to leave bogus comments on websites to make the regime look good.

According to Business Insider, the group may function at various levels, with some commenters employed by websites or internet providers themselves.

Researchers from Harvard University said that an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 belong to the “party”.

“The size and sophistication of the Chinese government’s program to selectively censor the expressed views of the Chinese people is unprecedented in recorded world history,” the authors wrote.

Meanwhile, the term “50 cents” has been banned in China, as it is used to refer to the group, who, it is said, are paid 50 cents of Renminbi for each post spinning the news and sentiment in China’s favour.

Last week, the BBC criticised the blocking of its website in China after the site reported the beating of a Chinese protestor in Hong Kong being by police. Director of the BBC World Service Group Peter Horrocks said: “The BBC strongly condemns any attempts to restrict free access to news and information and we are protesting to the Chinese authorities. This appears to be deliberate censorship.”

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