The Chinese government doesn’t just censor its internet. It actually pays people to leave fake comments that make the country — and its communist regime — look good.
After reading “Blocked on Weibo” by Chinese researcher Jason Q. Ng, we recently learned China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, banned the phrase “50 cents.” It references China’s “50 Cent Party,” a group of ordinary citizens hired by the government to post internet comments spinning that day’s news in China’s favour.
These hired guns supposedly earn 50 cents (or .5 Yuan) for every post. While the Chinese government has only implicitly acknowledged their existence, the brigade likely functions at various levels, with some commenters even employed by websites or internet providers themselves.
An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 belong to the “party,” researchers from Harvard University wrote in the American Political Science Review in May 2013. “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.