The Chinese government hires a small army of freelance censors to manipulate opinion in chatrooms, blogs and now even Twitter, Oiwan Lam, a prominent Chinese-language blogger currently writing for Global Voices and Inmediahk, says in this video.
Some of Oiwan’s friends have done stints as online censors, getting paid 50 cents per comment, to earn up to several hundred RMB per month (US$30 or so).
Many of these censors, who are know as 50-cent-ers, have been recruited from China’s top universities and some government agencies. (One recent recruitment campaign looked for male party members willing to do a job that involved surfing the Internet for p0rngrphie. Imagine they found more than a few young male applicants willing to surf for that. A female friend of Oiwan’s tried to apply for the job, but was rejected because she is a woman.)
Although not entirely new, the phenomenon has recently started including people working to shape opinion on Twitter and similar new channels towards stances more favorable to the government.
Turns out the Chinese government has heard of Web 2.0.