back to article China caught astroturfing social networks

A new study claims to have unmasked a state-sponsored social media campaign in China that's responsible for nearly a half-billion social media comments. The report [PDF] from Harvard University suggests that a group of users acting at the behest of the Chinese government uses the comments to influence discussion of topics that …

  1. hellwig

    Every big company does this.

    Lots of company's run these positive campaigns (and tend to get caught just the same). It's just that the People's Republic of China has a lot more employees than any other company.

    You might think the P-Rep-C is a government entity, but that whole communist revolution is just a story they tell to keep their employees from unionizing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every big company does this.

      Google, Facebook Uber etc pump massive resources into their fake grassroots organisations, to promote anti-regulation framed as freedom.

      Actually the only online comments you can trust are nihilistic commentards.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Every big company does this.

        Actually the only online comments you can trust are nihilistic commentards.

        Thank you, I am honoured.

        <Bows politely>

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Every big company does this.

          @ledswinger

          Encore!.. :tiphat:

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Every big company does this.

            You can trust *most* nihilistic commentards. Unless theres a thread about bsd, systemd or gnome3. They look largely automated to me.

            Commentard: Awwww sheeeit another systemd thread. Best google the current opinion.

            Commentard: Ok current bandwagon is negative.

            Commentard: ./auto_reg_spam.sh --topic systemd --opinion-bias strong --opinion negative --mention-bsd-interval extreme --spintax systemdrants.txt --flog-level 'dead horse' --tangent-strenth wild --auto-downvote-naysayers true

            Commentard: My work here is done.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Every big company does this.

              Fuck off, Pottering.

        2. Triggerfish

          Re: Every big company does this.

          Actually the only online comments you can trust are nihilistic commentards.

          Hey I can hate you all and life and still love this new coke taste thanks....

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Every big company does this.

        Google, Facebook Uber etc pump massive resources into their fake grassroots organisations, to promote anti-regulation framed as freedom.

        Andrew, is that you?

      3. JLV
        Trollface

        Re: Every big company does this.

        >Actually the only online comments you can trust are nihilistic commentards.

        Nope. They are just working for the competitors instead.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Every big company does this.

          Harvard research shows China astroturfs, not by arguing against things but by distraction and misdirection. Commentards rush to point out that all companies do this, though they can't seem to show any research to back this up.

          50 cents a post you say?

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Every big company does this.

      Add that every large organization and government does this with varying degrees of ineffectiveness.

  2. Mephistro

    Will they carry out a similar study ...

    ... on Western democracies? ***shudder***

    I mean, the Chinese didn't invent this shit, did they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will they carry out a similar study ...

      Here it is: snowden-training-guide-for-gchq-nsa-agents-infiltrating-and-disrupting-alternative-media-online

      If anything, GCHQ's astro-turfing operations are worse than the Chinese.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will they carry out a similar study ...

        If anything, GCHQ's astro-turfing operations are worse than the Chinese.

        I'm pretty sure they picked it up from Microsoft - we see enough of that here :)

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Will they carry out a similar study ...

          Has there been some interference from a NORK message?

    2. Dadmin
      WTF?

      Re: Will they carry out a similar study ...

      No, comrade, I mean, mighty fellow citizen of super fun western culture webpage, The Great People's Republic of China did not invent this, nor are they being directed to do so by GLORIOUS LEADER! They had nothing to do with this. Honest. The Great People's Republic of China is awesome and flawless. Also, The Great People's Republic of China smells really nice. Also, The Great People's Republic of China is almost completely pollution free! The Great People's Republic of China is for free-thinking robot peoples for future of lifting up in sky of MAGNANIMOUS GLORIOUS LEADER! What a guy!

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Will they carry out a similar study ...

        So when is the next revision of "The Little Red Book" due out? I'll assume that MAGNANIMOUS GLORIOUS LEADER is title, not name. So minimal change then?

    3. P. Lee

      Re: Will they carry out a similar study ...

      >I mean, the Chinese didn't invent this

      Yeah, Western governments are much worse

      Ooh! 50c!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Comrade Marketing Hack say:

    China A #1!! Running dog English tech publication not understand the PRC! The PRC is harmonious, with many happy feelings! The Chinese people's spirit aroused in anger by these lies!! Marketing Hack take strong revenge for England stealing Hong Kong from rightful owners and forcing opium to honorable ancestors!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "303 See Other"

    Hey, how about that new Phillipine presadent! What a yahu!

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: "303 See Other"

        AC, I would have UV'd you but why bother? That comment was quite racist but with a bit of fiddling, could have been insightful and mildly amusing. What a waste. Try harder and for fucks sake: decloak.

      2. Anomalous Croissant
        FAIL

        Re: "303 See Other"

        Good grief. You do realise hentai is a Japanese term?

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: "303 See Other"

          It's all about Chinese Cartoons!

          And actually, the leadership of the PRC is on the straight and narrow, they haven't yet found out that porn distracts the masses (and stuck-up feminists) more strongly than for example the latest geopoliticial manoeuvering by India which is likely to turn Pakistan into a Syrian situation with nukes, as it is planned to ... ooohhh Kardashian's Arse is the news!!

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "303 See Other"

          "Good grief. You do realise hentai is a Japanese term?"

          Historically, the Japanese migrated from China originally :-p

          Of course, we're all Africans under the skin anyway.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "303 See Other"

            Hmmmm...down voting facts? What are you, some sort of creationist?

  5. energystar
    Trollface

    From when on Governments are excluded from Social Media? </hiccup>

  6. frank ly

    Stipendous

    "... the reported per-post stipend the users receive from the government .."

    A stipend is a fixed periodic payment.

  7. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    $0.50 per post?

    OMG! If I could do two per minute, that's $60/hour.

    Where do I sign up?

    LOL...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: $0.50 per post?

      No kidding. Nice job if you can get it.

    2. JLV

      Re: $0.50 per post?

      How about as an Amazon fake reviewer?

      https://www.amazon.com/Ruby-Programming-Professional-Made-Easy-ebook/dp/B00T0VRLVG?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr-mr-title#customerReviews

      https://www.amazon.com/Android-Programming-Power-Beginners-Development-ebook/dp/B00QMK9MRO?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc#customerReviews

  8. Darling Petunia

    It's very popular with a 'modest' & well coiffed fellow running for 'president' In the U.S.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      US Astroturfing

      It's actually more popular with his opponent, although they're both pretty deep into it. Hillary's Correct the Record super-PAC is into the seven figures on astroturfing alone. And they openly announced it, so a quick google will confirm.

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    So, the Chinese...

    ...have an official Govt. "nudge unit" too, just like the UK and probably every other Govt. in the world.

  10. DerekCurrie
    FAIL

    The usual propaganda, tool of FAILed governments

    China: Criminal Nation. No 'communism' in sight. Only totalitarianism is in evidence, the usual fate of all FAILed states. :-P

    Hey #MyStupidGovernment: Sorry you gave China 'Most Favored Nation' status back in 1998 YET? Oops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The usual propaganda, tool of FAILed governments

      China isn't a failure though. Not that I agree with how they run things, but they've proven that economic prosperity is possible without democracy.

      And America has proved the opposite, that democracy alone doesn't automatically lead to freedom and social justice. On the contrary, they've managed to build a pretty nasty police state.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I finally understand the hype of AI -Chatbots (Tay etc)...

    They're there for corporate / state sponsored interference - ministry of misinformation etc.. Handy! Some human trolls are so brain-dead anyway it wouldn't be hard for Tay like AI to pass the Turing test...

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thread jacking

    Why are people picking on China - it's culture and people should be celebrated. Why do the West hate them so much?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Countertrolling 101

    "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 recognize fast)."

    Therein lies the answer. If you see something, say something .... defensive, eh?

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