Recent documents leaked by a Chinese blogger named ‘Xiaolan’ have further detailed a state-sponsored internet propaganda program that is sophisticated and comprehensive.
Leaked emails from the Internet Information Office of Ganzhou City, Jiangxi from 2013-2014 show some startling revelations about how the Chinese government has for some time employed upwards of 500,000 internet trolls.
But the leaked emails and their content aren’t a complete revelation. It’s more like further detail on what is already known. For a while now these trolls have been dubbed the ‘50-cent party’ by Chinese netizens.
The term 50-cent party refers to the fact that internet trolls allegedly get paid 50 yuan per post.
The leaked emails point to the fact that the Chinese government has used these internet trolls to specifically target pro-democratic groups and to push the Party’s line on a number of issues. The paid posters are required to report on what comments they have made as well as a link to the post.
So what is the point of all this? As written by Freedom House: “The project is aimed at deceiving them into thinking that public support for the [Chinese Communist Party] and its policies is more prevalent than it actually it, and that abuses like corruption and torture are much less common than they are in reality.”
For a humorous take on the 50-cent party, see Chris Chapel’s (from China Uncensored) in the below video.