An Interview With China’s Digital Thought Police

Via the Atlantic, insurrectory artist Ai Weiwei spoke to a member of the so-called “50-Cent Gang” — the network of individuals paid by the Chinese state to sway public opinion in Internet forums:

The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas.

In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved.

The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.

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  • asshurtmacfags

    I wonder how many pr firms in the us do this now?

    • alizardx

      offhand, I’d guess all and many are using twitterbots as well. I’ve heard publicly posted job listings for US 50-centers are available if one knows where to look.

  • SoruhFrake

    I actually believe all those types of skeptics (mark you nothing against actual skepticism), which will start defying the ability for anything outside of him to be more objective than his own spoon fed minor imagination. I really believe most of those guys are such pr people…they never come into a conversation to discuss or try to understand at least the other perspective without labeling it as absolute shit, all they do is Disagree and attack and they just seem like abnormally unreal. While I’ve seen close minded people they generally are too close minded to even want to spread their knowledge or perspective, since lack of it obviously. and since their perspective then seems too obvious to need to be said.

    • asshurtmacfags

      Well, I could definitely see that, but I could also see being irrationally opposed to looking at others opinions. Hell, I attack the fuck out of stupid evangelicals, that could be construed as closed minded. That’s pretty much that same thing right?

      • SoruhFrake

        No that is institutionalized religion I keep my hands off that, it’s a mess. It’s kind of spirituality but for sheeple, that are to afraid of being responsible., a soul is only divine if it evolves, yet modern religion hinders that. A soul is every belief, but when it is stuck to one single belief it falls into a dream..

  • BuzzCoastin

    it’s usually managed at a much higher level in the US
    plus the Chinese have yet to discover that free speech
    rarely leads to the overthrow of a government

    but all governments manage (program) the media at all levels possible
    the subtly with which its done depends upon the country
    the West is far more more subtle and wily than China
    when it comes to media programming
    China looks like a ham-fisted buffoon in comparison